Spring is here and I'm ready for nettles. They have yet to sprout (at least to my knowledge) in Montana, but I've been breaking out my ample supply of dried nettles and last years pickled harvest. Nettles are, in my opinion, a staple in any herbal cabinet. They are full of iron, vitamins and ease symptoms related to so many ailments. My first experience with them was slightly humorous as I had no idea what I was getting into. I was 18, working on a farm in Sweden with very little awareness of the medicinal component to plants. Emilia, the owner of the farm, asked if I wouldn't mind crushing up the dried nettle plants hanging in the loft of the barn to bag and sell in the shop. Emilia instructed me to wear gloves, insisting that the plants could sting, but I wasn't exactly sure what she meant by that. So I grabbed a pair of garden gloves and went to work, crushing the brittle plants between my hands. And yes, they stung - a lot! Throughout the next week, we spent hours bagging nettles and running them through a food processor to make nettle flour. From this point on, nettles had a big impact on me. I was infatuated with the taste and spent most of my breaks on the veranda with a cup of nettle tea warming my palms.
Since then, my love for nettles has only grown. They are such a versatile plant in the kitchen and there are so many ways to incorporate them into nourishing meals. From pestos to baked goods, nettles can amp up the taste and healing aspect of what's on your plate.
Enjoy these crackers with cheese, pesto, cucumbers or on their own! I like mine with goat cheese and a glass of rosé ;) I adapted this recipe from Molly Yeh's Buttery Cracker recipe from her book, Molly on the Range. If you haven't checked that book out, I suggest you do. It's filled with unique recipes and beautiful photos.
P.S. Expect a lot of nettle recipes in the coming months. I've got a ton of ideas brewin' in my mind.
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tbs dried nettles
1 tsp dried tulsi
1 tsp baking powder
1 tbs sugar
1/2 cup cold unsalted ghee (or butter)
1/3 cold water
Preheat oven to 350º F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, mix flour, nettles, salt, sugar and baking powder. Add butter and doing this with your hands or a mixer, and combine until the butter is pea sized, slowly pouring the water as you mix. Do this until the mixture has come together and can be formed into a ball. Place dough on a lightly floured surface and roll out until it is 1/4 thick, dusting the dough with flour as needed. Once rolled out, cut out 2 inch rounds (Or squares! Or Triangles!), re-rolling any dough scraps. Place on lined baking sheets, about 1/2 inch apart. Bake until slightly brown, this will happen after about 20 minutes. Let cool on pan before eating. Store in an airtight container at room temp.