Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica) Nettles are nutritional powerhouses and a clear sign of spring. Packed with vitamins, iron and fiber they are also known to contain around 7% protein in their fresh, leafy state.
Nettles are a versatile ingredient that can be used raw or cooked. If using them raw, be sure to crush them enough that their stings are disabled! Blend raw or briefly blanched nettles with garlic, olive oil and a few hazelnuts to make a rich and nutritious pesto. If you blanch them, be sure to drink the water you cook them in. Try simply blanched and dressed with oil and salt, add toasted nuts or seeds if you like. Nettle soup is a popular classic.
If a patch of Stinging Nettles gets trimmed in the late summer or early to mid-fall, they will often produce fresh growing tips within about 4 weeks. This late-season growth is just as good as the spring growth and provides a good opportunity to utilize the potent nutrition of the nettle!