What’s Cookin’…Nettles

on May 30, 2013


Nettles, one of my favorite greens to eat. Most people I know stay away from this plant because the little prickers on the stems sting and irritate your skin when you brush against them. While, these plants can cause irritation of your skin they are also very healthy for you to eat. Nettles are rich in calcium, iron, protein, and many vitamins and minerals. Besides being a healthy they can also reduce symptoms of PMS, allergies, and hay fever. They help the circulatory system, reduce chronic headaches and arthritis pain when the stingers are rubbed on the joints. This is not just food, it is medicine.

Below is my patch of nettles growing in my garden. The kids all know what it looks like so they know to be cautious. They are very good at pointing out when the plants start to grow on the path so I can pull them out. Besides in my garden, I find nettles along the edges of woods, paths in the park, and near wet areas.


Gathering Nettles

When gathering stinging nettle we usually wear gloves to protect our hands. I don’t always wear gloves when picking a small amount but if you are picking a large amount wear gloves, otherwise your hands will get very irritated and itchy.


When gathering you want to pick the top 4 to 6 leaves. This is the newest growth and the most tender. This also allows the plant to keep growing and you can harvest again and again all through the summer.



Preparing Nettles

Once you have your nettles, put them in a cold water bath. Use your hand to agitate them in the water. This will clean the leaves and many of the stingers will fall off as well. After the rinse put them in a salad spinner to dry. It is safe to eat the stingers as they loose their power a while after the plant has been picked or after the leaves have been cooked.


Nettles can be used the same as spinach so they are very versatile. Here are some of my favorite ways to eat nettles:

Saute with onions and mushrooms for a side dish or over eggs

Put them in an frittata

Dry the leaves for tea, nettle and mint go great together

Nettle Soup

Nettle Lasagna


Today I made Shepard’s Pie with nettles and it turned out delicious. Start with:

2 carrots

1 onion

2 cloves garlic

olive oil

1 pound ground beef

1/2 cup beef broth

1/2 cup tomato sauce, marinara, or the tomato sauce of your choosing

4 cups of nettles

salt and pepper to taste

3 cups mashed potatoes


1. Heat olive oil in a pan and add onions, saute until clear. Add carrots and garlic and saute another 5 min.

2.  Add ground beef and cook until cooked through.

3. Add in broth and tomato sauce then simmer until it reaches the thickness you desire.  Add salt and pepper to taste.


4. Boil a little water or broth and add chopped nettles. Cook for 2 minutes and drain.


5. Pour meat mixture into a 9×13 pan. Layers nettles on top.

6. Spoon mashed potatoes over the top and bake in a 400 degree oven for 25 minutes.

7. Enjoy!


Don’t forget to have a cup of nettle tea before bed, with lots of honey 🙂




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