Rain, Rain, Go Away....

After being inside all morning, I finally had enough. The weather has been cold and wet, never passing 10 degrees celsius. I had hoped that after breakfast things might warm up some more, and the sun might peak through, but as the newspaper said, it will continue to rain and perhaps even snow. I have been looking forward to a warm German spring, but it seems that the good ol' Pacific Northwest is getting more sunshine than here. Surprising...

Anyhow, I put on my boots, grabbed my umbrella and headed outside for some fresh air and a fresh perspective. I put in my headphones and and pressed play on my Ipod. Wailin' Jenny's is usually always on repeat, I rarely listen to anything else. For some reason their melodies bring me at ease, like none other, soft, upbeat, and harmonious. I quickly found my pace, and headed out toward the fruit fields. I passed only a few, most on bike, some on foot, all bundled up against the weather. Within minutes I had passed the town center and made my way along a gravel path through the apple and pear fields. Young nettles were everywhere, washed clean by the constant drizzling rain. They looked perfect, bright green and strong without any slight damage to the leaves. I couldn't pass up the moment, I had to harvest some for lunch! Luckily I had brought a bag along and found a handkerchief in my pocket. With my left hand covered by my long sleeve and the handkerchief in my right, I carefully picked the top youngest leaves of the nettles and put them into my bag. Within a few minutes I had gathered enough to make us a delicious lunch. A wild nettle frittata would be wafting through the apartment soon!

Nettles are originally from Northern Europe but are now found all over the world. They have been used for hundreds of years as a medicinal herb. Nettles, with high amounts of boron and silicon, are best known for their ability to ease pain in sore muscles and in joints due to arthritis and gout. Their diuretic properties also make nettles great for liver cleansing and detox programs. If you have hay fever nettles may also help reduce an allergic response due to anti-histamines found in the leaves.

In order to remove the sting, you can either boil, steam, sauté, or bake them. Often nettles are found in disturbed areas, such as along hiking trails, clear cuts, roads, etc. Make sure to wash them prior to cooking to remove any dirt or dust they have gathered. I recommend gathering them as far away from traffic as possible to make sure they are clean. 

With high levels of protein, Vitamins A, C, and K, and minerals iron, phosphorous, magnesium, and calcium, nettles are a great substitution to your typical greens. I have used them in soups, omelets, frittatas, pesto, and simply sauteed alone with butter salt and pepper. My personal favorite it to steam the nettles, topping them off with a poached egg, a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt and pepper.

Today I will share with you my recipe for a wild nettle frittata, always a welcome meal in my home. Accompanied by a salad it makes a perfect light lunch, although often used as a breakfast or brunch dish.

Wild Nettle Frittata
Makes 4 servings
4 eggs
3 cups of nettles (washed and chopped)
1 medium tomato (sliced thin)
1 spring onion
1 zucchini
1 clove garlic (finely chopped)
1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup goat milk feta
2 Tbsp fresh chopped basil
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and pepper to taste

1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Heat oil in an oven proof pan ( I used a 9 inch cast iron pan). Cut the spring onion and zucchini into small chunks and sauté in the oil over medium heat. Sprinkle a little salt and pepper.
2.  After the onion and zucchini have sauteed for about 5 minutes add the nettles and reduce heat and cover until nettles are wilted.
3. Meanwhile, whisk the eggs until combined in a medium bowl. Add the basil, garlic clove, milk, and feta and stir with wooden spoon. Salt and pepper to taste.
4.  Pour the egg mixture over the nettles. Use wooden spoon to gently mix the nettles evenly throughout the pan.
5. Top the mixture with tomato slices and sprinkle with additional feta if desired.
6. Put into oven for about 30-40 minutes until the egg mixture has set. Serve warm.

Side Note: I served the frittata with a mixed sweet pepper salad and a balsamic vinaigrette. If eaten with breakfast or brunch replace salad with fresh bread and butter.

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