Nettles, Early Spring Nutrition

It’s spring time and the ideal time to do a bit of foraging.

Along with wild garlic, nettles are an abundant and nutritious, easily found plant. They were held in high regard by our forebears as they are one of the first green plants to appear after winter, heralding spring, fresh green leaves and rich nutrition.

Choose a patch which is away from roadside pollutants and possible watering by dogs!  Use gloves and pick the nettle tips.

Nettles are a rich source of vitamin A, Calcium and Iron.  Once you have them home, give them a good wash and treat them like spinach.  They make a great soup and as well as using them in the pie below, I’ve also made nettle pesto and stuffing for tortellini.

If you can’t find or don’t want to use nettles, swap them out for spinach, kale, spring greens or wild garlic.

A slice of Nettle & courgette filo pie

Nettle and Courgette Pie

Serves 4

1 or 2 courgettes – about 250g

250g nettle tops – washed

1 medium onion

2 spring onions

1 pack filo pastry

1 pack feta cheese (200g)

2 eggs

2 tbsp Greek yogurt

4 tbsp chopped mixed fresh herbs – parsley, dill, mint, tarragon, coriander

sesame seeds for scattering

olive oil

  1. Grate the courgettes, sprinkle with salt and allow to sit in a colander for 20 min to drain some of the excess juice, then rinse and squeeze out as much moisture as possible.
  2. Fry the onion in a little olive oil until soft, add the nettles and courgette and fry gently for another 5 min.  Remove from the heat.
  3. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas6.
  4. Unwrap the filo pastry, brush the top 3 sheets with olive oil and line an 20cm spring tin or equivalent.
  5. Beat the eggs and yogurt together, add the spring onion, herbs feta cheese and season with pepper.
  6. Tip into the onion, nettle and courgette mixture, mix well and pour into the lined tin.
  7. Cover the top of the pie with 3 more sheets of greased filo pastry, tuck in the edges and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
  8. Bake for about 30 min
  9. Allow to cool for about 30 min before eating.

Nettle Soup

Butter beans give this soup a lovely smooth creaminess, you could also use a couple of potatoes, just cook for a little longer.

2 cupped handfuls nettle tips, washed & drained

2 cans butterbeans or 375g dried beans, soaked and cooked.

1 large onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, skinned

Chicken or vegetable stock to cover

1 tbsp oil

  1. Heat the oil in a large pot, fry the chopped onion & garlic for a few minutes to soften.
  2. Add the nettles and butter beans, stir and add the stock.
  3. Bring to the boil, simmer for 10 mins, then blend to smooth.
  4. Season to taste and serve.