I always snap up stinging nettles at the market when I get the chance. The nutritional benefits are out of this world. I usually boil and steep them to make a tea to drink, but I've never known what to do with the resulting spent nettles. It seems a shame to compost them when they retain so much vibrant, green color--I mean that has to be good for you. This week I got inspired by some green garlic and decided to transform the leftover nettles into a sauce. The result is full of sharp flavor. Mix it with potatoes, serve it over beef, or use it as a base for a stir-fry.
Nettle and Green Garlic Sauce
Drain the boiled nettles thoroughly, so they're not hanging onto excess liquid (you can even gentle squeeze them out with your hands if you're pressed for time).
Add the nettles to the food processor with the green garlic and puree until smooth. Add a big pinch of salt, the coconut aminos or soy sauce and puree for a couple of seconds to distribute. Taste and adjust seasoning if you like--the taste will be potent!
Whether you're celebrating Easter this weekend or plan to have friends over for a cozy dinner party, spring is a wonderful time to celebrate food and togetherness. Here are a few recipes to get your creative juices flowing.
To start: I like to have a snacks out when guests arrive (experience has taught me that it really takes the pressure off and can help draw your guests around a central location other than the kitchen). One of my favorite snacks is pimento cheese toasts with thinly sliced radishes on top. Take a locally-made baguette, slice into thin pieces and lightly toast. Spread the toast with Sequatchie Cove Creamery pimento cheese and top with thinly sliced radishes. The sharp bite of the radishes balances out the rich tang of the cheese perfectly. You can pair this with a cocktail or a little glass of kombucha for a festive start to your meal.
Salad: Spring means fresh greens, and a salad is a perfect way to highlight them. I keep things simple and use a mix of whatever I find at the market, with one or two bitter greens mixed among more neutral tasting leaves. This year I'll be using my lemon dressing and adding a few just-hard boiled eggs.
Main course: I'll be serving meat eaters at Easter this year, so I'm planning to make this delicious lamb recipe, but when a friend asked for my recommendation for a vegetarian main dish, I recommended this sweet potato and greens gratin.
Side dishes: I plan to serve up this pickled beet salad (minus the goat cheese) and some roasted broccoli, simply dressed with a little tahini and lemon juice whisked together.
Dessert: This year we're having pavlova using local eggs, minus the berries (we're not quite there yet!).
I thought I was going to miss the onslaught of cold and flu bugs this year, but I was not so lucky. It's true what they say, and ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and eating a local diet rich in nutrients all year round is the best way I know of to stay healthy, but for those times when you have to do damage control, here are some ideas for helping yourself heal and recover. (Please note, I'm not a medical professional and the advice in this post should not be taken in lieu of proper care from licensed care givers.)
Fermented foods: Whether you make them yourself or purchase from one of the vendors at the market, fermented foods are packed with probiotics that encourage healthy gut flora. These micro organisms play a crucial role in regulating your system and keeping you healthy. Fermented foods are easy to make at home but you can also conveniently purchase them from the MSFM. Some ideas include:
Tonics and extracts: From stinging nettle tonic and elderberry syrup there are many ways you can nourish your body while you're sick. Wooden Spoon Herbs offers teas, medicinal herbal tonics and syrups, or pick up some in-season produce to make nutritious, soothing beverages like fresh mint tea. Try some freshly grated turmeric in some hot water with local honey for a real treat.
Soups and broths: If you are a meat eater, then a batch of bone broth is a great tasting, mineral-rich way to give your system a boost. Or if you're dead tired, pick up a healthy soup from The Farmer's Daughter for an easy meal.
These are just a few of the ways you can care for yourself while you're sick. What are your favorite tips, tricks and recipes to heal yourself when you're sick?
This kind of recipe is the one I make most often at home: it's a template recipe, which means that it's based more on a structure than a specific list of ingredients. This makes it infinitely customizable to the season and what I have to eat in my house. I'm going to include both the template and the specific recipe for this salad below. Feel free to experiment, and let me know if you land on an especially delicious combination!
Template Recipe: Grains and Greens Salad
Mustard and Radish Grain Salad with Miso Vinaigrette
For these last few days of winter: black bean soup with local cornmeal biscuits. If you wish, you can cook the black beans up to 3 days ahead, storing them in the fridge in their cooking liquid.
Spicy Black Bean and Chorizo Soup
Using a potato masher, gently mash the soup a few times. This will thicken the soup. Add back in the chorizo, stir well, and cook for five more minutes, covered.
Serve with cornmeal biscuits (recipe follows) and sour cream or yogurt and sliced radishes on top.
Crunchy Cornmeal Biscuits
Makes 12 biscuits.