Sautéed Stinging Nettles

Sautéed Nettles

Molly Watson

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 5 mins
Total: 15 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
60 Calories
7g Fat
0g Carbs
0g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 60
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 7g 9%
Saturated Fat 1g 5%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 145mg 6%
Total Carbohydrate 0g 0%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 0g
Protein 0g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 0mg 0%
Iron 0mg 0%
Potassium 0mg 0%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Stinging nettles have been used for centuries as food, as a component in traditional medicine, and also as fiber for clothing. Tricky to handle because of their prickly leaves and capacity to cause urticaria rash, stinging nettles are actually a super flavorful green. When cooked properly, their spinach-like flavor is wonderful in soups, pesto sauces, beverages, and many dishes in which you'd otherwise use leafy greens. A brief exposure to high heat tames these prickly vines and transforms them into a flavorful dish of earthy and bright flavors. Serve these simple nettles all on their own, as a side for any protein of your liking, or to top pasta or pizzas for a hit of brilliant green.

Nettles need to be thoroughly cleaned and de-stung before eating. To do this, the easiest method is blanching them in boiling water and rinsing them afterward, squeezing out the water before sauteeing them or adding them into soups or stews. By blanching the nettles, they get cleaned and broken down in one fell swoop. If you're foraging nettles yourself, first be absolutely sure what you're foraging are indeed nettles, and secondly don't pick any nettles that grow near busy roads or that have been sprayed with fertilizers or chemicals.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound stinging nettles

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, or any other cooking fat

  • Salt, to taste

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients

  2. To clean the nettles you have two options. Wear gloves and swish them around in a large sink or basin filled with cool water. Lift the nettles out, leaving any grit behind, and drain them. Reserve.

  3. Alternatively, bring a pot of salted water to a boil and blanch the nettles for 4 minutes. Cool them quickly in a bowl of ice water. Squeeze the nettles as dry as possible before sautéeing them.

  4. Once your nettles are cleaned or blanched, heat up a large pan over high heat—the wideness of the pan or skillet will help any liquid cook off quickly so the nettles sauté instead of steam. Add the oil or preferred cooking fat.

  5. Add the nettles and cook, stirring frequently, until the greens are tender—about 2 minutes for blanched nettles and 5 to 8 for raw nettles. If sautéeing raw nettles, make sure to keep the heat high so the liquid they throw off as they cook evaporates quickly.

  6. Sprinkle the nettles with salt to taste and serve immediately.

  7. Enjoy!

Recipe Variations

This basic recipe for sauteed nettles is the perfect blank canvas for adding other toppings or flavors to these delicious greens:

  • Sauté a clove of minced garlic, a spring onion, or a shallot into the cooking fat and cook, stirring, until fragrant. Add the nettles, cook as directed, and add a squeeze of fresh lime juice before salting and serving.
  • Include a sprinkle of red chile flakes in the cooking fat before adding the nettles. Cayenne or a spicy seasoned salt are also good options.
  • Top with freshly grated Parmesan, Pecorino, or the grated cheese of your choice. For a vegan alternative, sprinkle with nutritional yeast.
  • Drizzle with additional extra virgin olive oil, walnut oil, or toasted sesame oil for a final hit of flavor before serving. White truffle, avocado, or any herbal-infused oil would be a great addition to the nettles.
  • Add some roasted nuts on top of the finished nettles. Pine nuts, cashews, or walnuts are great on the nettles and together they make a base for a beautiful warm salad. Add goat's cheese and cooked beets to complement these bright flavors.