As a kid I remember chewing on the tender white end of a blade of grass- enjoying the smell and taste of summer. Picking wild raspberries year after year in the same secret places. The idea of harvesting wild plants has always intrigued me.

Meet Alison Birks, MS, AHG CNS -Nutritionist and Clinical Herbalist

Alison has a wealth of plant knowledge that is both delicious and nutritious. When she’s not informing her clients’ eating habits she can sometimes be found foraging for edible plants. Below is a recipe Alison makes from stinging nettles.

Stinging nettles?

Stinging nettle is a common weed that grows in rich, moist soil. It’s found in pastures, gardens or near water as it thrives on high nitrogen. It’s truly a super food- good for strong bones and healthy blood; with calcium, iron and other trace minerals. Stinging nettles have vitamin K — an important fat -soluble vitamin for normal blood clotting and bone health, protein, vitamins and antioxidants. The photo in the header shows you what a stinging nettle looks like. If you’re unsure, you can verify your find here. An interesting site where you can identify all kinds of plants: https://gobotany.newenglandwild.org/simple/

Nettles should be picked when they’re young-ideally less than 6″ high- meaning early spring. Young nettles can also be found throughout the summer but should be picked before flowering. The older plants are tougher and not as delicious.

Be careful.

You’ve probably learned to avoid nettles because they’re covered with tiny stinging hairs that can cause a rash. Grasp the nettle firmly and snap off the upper part. If done quickly and you avoid brushing your hand against them, you can pick them without gloves and not get stung. Or, just use gloves and harvest them with a pair of clippers. (The sting disappears after the plant’s dried or cooked.)

Once you have about a quart of nettle tops, rinse them well and pick out any pieces of grass or other debris before cooking. This soup is best prepared a day ahead and chilled before eating.

Ingredients:  (Serves six)

  • 1 quart of washed, freshly picked nettle tops
  • 4 large organic potatoes– peeled and diced
  • 1/2 large onion– peeled and chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic — crushed
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 tsp. thyme
  • Salt to taste
  • Fresh ground black, pepper
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil

1. In a large saucepan, cover nettles with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer nettles until tender.

2. In a skillet, cook onion, potatoes and garlic in olive oil until everything is tender. Simmer covered for about 30-40 minutes.

3. Add some of the cooking liquid from the nettles and the seasonings to the potato-onion mixture and cook for 5 minutes longer.

4. Combine the nettles, potatoes and onions together in the large saucepan and let cool.

5. Puree the soup in the blender or food processor in small batches. Stir in almond milk; let the soup cool to room temperature, and then place it in the refrigerator and chill for about one hour. You can also easily freeze it in small batches for use another time.

Learn more about Alison or ask questions about this recipe: http://alisonbirks.com/

 

 

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