Nettle Soup With Garlic Croutons
Note: From “The Nordic Diet,” by Trina Hahnemann.
• 2 slices of rye or spelt bread, cut into cubes
• 1 tbsp. olive oil
• 1 garlic clove, minced
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 1 yellow onion, chopped
• 1 tbsp. olive oil
• 5 1/2 c. low-sodium vegetable broth
• 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
• 5 c. fresh nettle leaves, firmly packed
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 4 eggs
• A few sprigs of watercress, for garnish
To make croutons: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix the bread cubes with 1 tablespoon oil, 1 minced garlic, salt and pepper. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes.
To make soup: In a large pan, sauté the onion in 1 tablespoon oil for 5 minutes, without allowing it to burn or color too much. Add the vegetable broth and nutmeg, bring to a boil and add the nettle leaves. Let simmer for 20 minutes.
Using a hand blender, blend the soup, then season with salt and pepper.
Bring some water to a boil in a small pan. When the water is boiling, place the eggs in the water, turn down the heat and let simmer for 7 minutes. Remove from the heat and place under cold water for 30 seconds. Take out and shell right away.
Serve the soup with the boiled eggs cut across in half; scatter croutons and watercress on top.
Nutrition information per serving:
Calories 236 Fat 13 g Sodium 1,294 mg
Carbohydrates 21 g Saturated fat 3 g Calcium 170 mg
Protein 10 g Cholesterol 187 mg Dietary fiber 5 g
Diabetic exchanges per serving: 1 vegetable, 1 bread/starch, 1 medium-fat meat, 1½ fat.
Serves 2 to 4.
Note: This quick and easy recipe was inspired by Molly Watson, formerly of Minneapolis, who is now living and foraging farmers markets in San Francisco. She is the local foods expert at www.localfoods.about.com.
• 1 lb. fresh nettles (12 c. firmly packed leaves)
• Homemade or pre-made dough for pizza crust (whole wheat dough is particularly flavorful with nettles)
• Olive oil
• Shredded mozzarella
• Sea salt
Preheat oven to 500 degrees.
Blanch nettles by dropping them in boiling water for a minute and then placing them immediately in ice water until cool. Squeeze the moisture out of them thoroughly; you should have about 1 cup.
Flour a surface and roll out the pizza dough to make a thin crust for a 12-inch pizza.
Brush the crust with olive oil, and then spread the nettles around the top. Sprinkle with shredded mozzarella to taste, and give it all a liberal drizzle of olive oil.
Transfer the pizza to a baking stone or large baking pan.
Bake until the crust is golden and the cheese melted and bubbling. Remove from the oven. Sprinkle with sea salt and another drizzle of olive oil. Serve hot.
Serves 10 to 12.
Note: From “Original Local: Indigenous Foods, Stories, and Recipes From the Upper Midwest,” by Heid E. Erdrich, who notes that the flavor of nettle is savory and rich, much like parsley with hints of basil and tarragon. For this recipe, nettles season a first layer that is decorated with slices of mushroom. It’s the season for morels (fresh or dried that have been reconstituted), but any mushroom will do for this rich spread. Serve on water crackers or crusty bread.
• 3 c. firmly packed fresh nettles, or 1/4 c. reconstituted dried nettles, drained and minced
• 1 (12-oz.) package firm tofu
• 3 tsp. sunflower oil, divided, plus more for pan
• 1/2 c. chopped walnuts
• 6 tbsp. roasted, unsalted sunflower seeds
• 2/3 c. chopped green onions, white parts only
• 6 c. sliced mushrooms, reserving slices of 1 mushroom
• 2 tbsp. tamari or 1 1/2 tbsp. soy sauce
• 1/4 tsp. dried tarragon
• 1/4 tsp. dried thyme
• 1/8 tsp. black pepper
• 1/8 tsp. paprika
• 1 c. whole-wheat breadcrumbs
To prepare fresh nettles: Blanch nettles by dropping them in boiling water for a minute, then placing them immediately in ice water until cool. Drain and squeeze the moisture out of them thoroughly. Then mince them. You will need 1/4 cup.
Place tofu in a flat-bottomed strainer, put a plate on top of it plus a heavy can or jar, and press for 10 minutes. Grease a loaf pan generously with sunflower oil. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bring a saucepan full of water to a boil.
In a food processor, grind walnuts to a coarse meal. Set aside.
In food processor, process sunflower seeds with 2 teaspoons sunflower oil until a thick paste forms. Set aside.
In a heavy skillet set over medium heat, cook onions in 1 tablespoon sunflower oil until translucent. Add 6 cups sliced mushrooms, toss to mix thoroughly, cover, and cook for 10 minutes, until mushrooms are completely softened and have given up a lot of liquid. Remove cover from skillet, and cook 5 more minutes.
While the mushrooms cook uncovered, prepare the tofu by placing it in the boiling water for 5 minutes. Remove and press tofu in same manner as earlier, but briefly, to remove any excess liquid.
Stir tamari into mushrooms, add tarragon, thyme, pepper and paprika); stir again. Reduce heat to low, and let simmer 5 minutes, then turn off heat.
Stir in sunflower seed paste and walnuts, mixing them into the liquid thoroughly. Crumble in the tofu, stir, then add the breadcrumbs, stirring again. Working in batches, purée in a food processor until smooth.
To assemble: Arrange slices of reserved mushroom on bottom of prepared loaf pan. Spoon nettles over and between mushroom slices. This will be the top of the pâté, so decorate as you wish.
Spoon pâté mixture into loaf pan on top of nettles, cover pan tightly with aluminum foil, and bake 50 minutes. Allow to cool, uncovered, for at least 45 minutes, then turn out of loaf pan onto serving plate. Cool another 30 minutes or more before slicing.
Nutrition information per each of 12 servings:
Calories 130 Fat 9 g Sodium 184 mg
Carbohydrates 10 g Saturated fat 1 g Calcium 88 mg
Protein 6 g Cholesterol 0 mg Dietary fiber 3 g
Diabetic exchanges per serving: 2 vegetable, 2 fat.