BaltimOregon to Maine

Locavore Cooking with Southern Efficiency and Northern Charm

Finally Foraged for Stinging Nettles

with 6 comments

Stinging Nettles (not to be confused with wild blackberry leaves) from Willamette Park

Stinging Nettles (not to be confused with wild blackberry leaves) from Willamette Park

Spaghetti carbonara with nettles

Spaghetti carbonara with nettles

Who would have thought that something potentially harmful would be edible? Yes, stinging nettles sting, like mild poison ivy, but when cooked, they have an herbacous, spinach-like taste and consistency. Spinach has a sweeter and more complex flavor, but when Mother Nature offers up such bounty for free, I’m always up for trying it. Foraging rules! Just don’t pick them when they’re going to seed, as I almost did today.

Also, don’t mistake them for wild blackberry vines. It’s easy to do. At least that’s not a lethal mistake. Chef Intaba pointed the nettles out to me in Willamette Park this afternoon. They have two opposition leaves (rather than the blackberry’s three and look very similar to lemon balm.

We cooked the soaked nettles into our spaghetti carbonara, made with house-cured bacon from a half a pig Intaba just butchered herself. Instead of parmesan, we dusted the pasta with the sharp aged and local Willamette Valley Cheese Co. Brindisi. We topped our salad with Intaba’s house-smoked pecans and frizzled leeks and edible pansies, redolent of wintergreen, that I didn’t even realize I had in my garden.

Intaba's bacon

Intaba's bacon

Pansy salad

Pansy salad

The meal provided nice closure to a Memorial Day of wine-tasting at Chateau Lorane just south of Eugene. The Willamette Valley’s big wine tasting weekends center around Memorial Day and Thanksgiving. I really fell for Lorrane’s Baco Noir, more rich than any pinot I’ve had. All the other wines seemed like water next to this voluptuous Baco, which painted the glass with deep purple. I only know the difference between good and bad with wine. But with this one, I could sense there was something special going on.

And be sure to stop at Our Daily Bread bakery and restaurant in Fern Ridge on Highway 99W between Corvallis and Eugene.They make a mean marionberry scone.

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Written by baltimoregon

May 26, 2009 at 1:04 am

6 Responses

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  1. that pansy salad doesnt sound too manly

    rd

    May 27, 2009 at 10:24 pm

    • Hello…thanks for this interesting post! I live in Eugene and have been trying to find some stinging nettle that I can collect locally…are you aware of any specific places? Thanks so much. – Cliff (cliffvolpe [at] gmail [dot] com)

      Cliff

      June 4, 2012 at 8:23 pm

  2. i didn’t know nettles were edible. we have some growing in a pot outside. can i take a picture and show you just to make sure?

    davelove

    May 28, 2009 at 9:43 pm

  3. yes do it! They look like lemon balm. But it’s kind of late in the season to eat them. When they’ve gone to seed they could give you urinary problems if you eat. I don’t think they’re worth it. But send a photo anyway.

    Laura

    May 28, 2009 at 11:19 pm

  4. […] a difference it makes to actually forage for nettles at the start of the season, as opposed to last spring when they were starting to undesirably go to seed. Foraging with Chef Intaba by the river in Willamette Park last Saturday, I was also much more […]

  5. Hello…thanks for this interesting post! I live in Eugene and have been trying to find some stinging nettle that I can collect locally…are you aware of any specific places? Thanks so much. – Cliff

    Cliff

    June 4, 2012 at 8:24 pm


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