Unfortunately there are more plants than food in my kitchen lately. Our idea of a homecooked meal comes from a leetle place called Calexico, located just south of the [Red Hook] border. I could eat a rolled quesadilla daily, complete with a side of what they refer to as "crack sauce" a questionable (albeit delicious) concoction not unlike flavored mayonaise. I like take out, and the masochist in me likes eating at work, greasy fingers tap tapping the computer, answering the telephone with a mouth full of guacamole, I don't give a RATS ASS if you can lower my electric bill, call back later!
Unfortunately I know my immune system isn't fond of days on end of greasy take out, and this time of year we have to take special care of ourselves because physical burnout looms on June's horizon. And so the carne-asada-spell was broken on my day off with a bagfull of Stinging Nettles and a warning from their purveyor "Please wear gloves when handling and cook well!!!"
Turns out stinging nettles really sting, should not be eaten raw (although I did view a handful of youtube videos documenting hippies demonstrating the art of raw ingestion). But, with 40% protein, and like zillions of chlorophyll's, these greens make it so you won't have to eat another vegetable for the rest of the week. I mean, unless you want to.
I made soup. With leeks and nettles, creme fraiche and egg yolks. Very simple, very delicious. Here's the recipe. I adapted it from this recipe. Don't overcook your nettles as I did. 10 minutes at a healthy rolling boil is probably long enough. The cheese rinds are sort of key here. If you don't have them, then I would use chicken broth cut with water instead of just water.
- 2 Tablespoons butter
- 3 Tablespoons of olive oil
- 3 leeks, cut into rounds, washed very thoroughly
- 1/2 pound wild nettle tops, large tough stems discarded. Use gloves, or tongs when handling.
- 1 quart filtered water (or broth)
- Smattering of whatever fresh herbs you have lying around. I had some chives and thyme. dill
- 2 egg yolks
- 1/2 cup crème fraiche, sweet cream, or half and half, or to taste
- one medium sized cheese rind (ideally from a flavorful hard cheese like Parmesan or locatelli romano
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Sauté leeks in butter and olive oil until soft. Add water (or broth) and bring to a boil
- Add nettles (being careful not to touch them with your bare hands!), and water or broth
- Add cheese rind, cover and simmer until the nettles are very soft - 10 or 15 min
- Meanwhile, in a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and the crème fraiche (feed the egg whites to your dog! or freeze them for future use)
- Puree using an immersion blender, or, in my case a teeny-tiny food processor, working in batches. Adding salt and pepper to taste
- Take a laddleful of soup and stir it into the egg mixture.
- Return the egg-nettle mixture to the soup and stir gently over very low heat (do not let it boil again)
- Plate soup with the fresh chopped herbs you have and a dollop of creme fraiche