The nice thing about nettles is that one never has too look very far to find them. Woods, parks, river banks, pathways: they’re everywhere and, now that I’ve discovered they are very tasty indeed, that’s a really good thing. The nasty thing about nettles, of course, is that they have a rather effective defense mechanism and having been no stranger to nettles stings as a child, I knew I had to be prepared for an afternoon’s picking.
Garbed in thick gardening gloves and several long-sleeved jumpers, I marched through the warm June afternoon to my chosen patch. I had a thick plastic bag and a long handled pair of scissors. Surely I’d be able to harvest some nettle leaves without any pain?
Apparently not. This evening I am nursing itchy red hands, arms and shins. Protective clothing, it seems, is no match to the malice of the green stingers. Their sticky little hooks managed to get under all of my layers, making what should have been a pleasant afternoon’s foraging into a rather uncomfortable experience.
Still, I got my revenge later in the day by dropping the offending leaves into a vat of boiling water before squeezing them dry and chopping them finely. Let that be a warning to you, stingy plants!
The following recipe is my entry to Joanna’s One Local Summer event which is collecting recipes using local produce only. This dish fits the bill. Everything other than the salt and pepper is from the north of Scotland.
650g floury potatoes
A shopping bag full of nettle leaves (When picking nettles, look for young plants with bright green leaves rather than the very dark mature plants. which can be very bitter.)
100g cheddar cheese, finely grated
Salt and pepper
2 egg yolks
100g plain flour
I ate this drizzled with melted butter and sprinkled with chives.