Call it instinct, but I feel like I`d better leave the stinging nettles behind and start putting something else up on these pages, lest you all think I`ve taken my laptop & camera and moved to a shack in the woods to live off the land — with all of my favourite kitchen utensils and spices, of course — my apocalypse kitchen will be very well stocked, thank-you very much.
But before they go, you should know I’ve had quite a week with these stingers. I attempted a batch of nettle beer, distilled rennet from the plants’ tips, baked nettle bread, deep fried the leaves and created a most vibrant green fettucine. But I understand it’s time to move on — I don’t think the world is ready for an All Nettles, All The Time food blog.
Again, call it instinct.
Spaetzle is an egg noodle, native to Germany and the surrounding region. It is one of my favourite sides, and probably the easiet “pasta” to make at home. The dough mixes up quickly, no resting, rolling or cutting required. Simply insert it into your spaetzle maker (I hear the groans…stay with me) and watch hundreds of little noodles drop into the boiling water below.
If you don’t have a maker, a cheese grater or colander will work in a pinch. You can also make country style spaetzle by cutting off small pieces of dough the size of your pinky fingernail with a dinner knife and flicking them into the water. But if you decide you like spaetzle (and you will once you’ve fried it in clarified butter), I wholeheartedly suggest buying yourself a maker. Once you’ve cleaned up the mess after a session of spaetzle making in a colander suspended above a pot of boiling water, I know you’ll agree.
Instead of my ubiqutous nettles, pretend this is spinach! Or if you prefer, leave out the greens altogether, and add 1 or 2 tablespoons of grainy mustard to the dough — it’s your spaetzle — you can have it anyway you want it.
To finish our spaetzle, I sauteed the blanched and cooled noodles in some clarifed butter until lightly golden. At the last minute, I added a small handful of chopped sundried tomatoes and 2 teaspoons of minced preserved lemon (or the grated zest of a fresh lemon). Serve, topped with parmesan and freshly cracked pepper.
And with that, I sign off talking about stinging nettles for another year. I’m not finished eating them though — there’s a couple of weeks left for me to get my fill — maybe by then, even I will be tired of Urtica dioica. But I doubt it.