I LOVE Spring in the Northwest. We anxiously await for the rain to subside…a little less falls each day. We crave the light. The sun sets later each day…even if it’s just one more minute of light…we embrace it. It’s as if our Souls come alive with the hope of a new, fresh season. Our bulbs pop up like “colored lights” in the yard. The scent of flowering trees permeates the air like a fragrance we have missed but not forgotten.
With this rejuvenation, we get busy!! Foraging is just getting under way. Morels, Fiddlehead Ferns….and “Nettles”. Now, I have to say…I was never a fan of Nettles. Probably because my only experience with them was from getting “stung”…thus the “Stinging” part in their title. They grow in the wild by creeks in the woods, in beautiful magical places. We pinch them off and fill our baskets, careful to wear gloves and avoid their sting….a sting that that almost says…I’m alive, after a long cold winter. But what to do with these lively greens so coveted by Modern Chefs, but discovered by Native Americans who were here long before we knew of this delight? We Create…
- Handful of blanched Nettles (see instructions below)
- 1-2 Shots Vodka – I used Ebb+Flow – a Seattle Favorite
- Mist of Dry Vermouth
- Green Olive – for garnish
- Soft Cream Cheese – to stuff our olives
- Finely Chopped Blanched Nettles – for olive stuffing
- 1/2 Clove Garlic – for olive stuffing mixture
Blanching the Nettles – Carefully remove the leaves from the stems. Use garden gloves or or surgical gloves for this. Rinse them off prior to blanching them to remove the “forest floor”…particles and such. Then QUICKLY drop them in boiling salted water for a few seconds….it’s a quick process. Use a spider or other hand held strainer to pull them from the boiling water and immediately plunge into ice water to “set” the color and stop the cooking. Just like you might do for spinach. The blanching removes “the sting”…no shortcuts here.
Remove the blanched Nettles from the ice bath and dry them gently on a kitchen towel. Chop them up a little and put them in your food processor ( I have a mini-processor that works well for this) Then, add the Vodka and process until the mixture is a thick green consistency.
Over your cocktail shaker – place a coffee filter and secure with a rubber band. Pour the Nettle-Vodka Mixture over the top and let it filter. Help it along by gently stirring. (careful not to rip the filter) The result will be a freshly infused Nettle Vodka. Ridiculously green and fresh!!! This “Is” the drink. Let it chill in the freezer to get icy cold. “Mist” your glasses with dry vermouth and place them in the freezer as well.
Pour this beautiful, fresh concoction into your Martini Glass.
Garnish: Chop up some of the blanched Nettles really fine and add to softened cream cheese. Add 1/2 clove of pressed garlic. Stuff this mixture into olives (remove the pimentos).
To Make It Virgin: Juice your blanched Nettles to make a delicious, fresh, healthy drink.
To Make It Special: The Nettle Cream Cheese Olives – really pair well.
This drink, just tastes SO fresh. The Nettles…don’t take away from the Vodka…They just add an element of “Fresh” that just says…Spring is here!!!
The health benefits of Nettles.…are wonderful. They are full of Antioxidants and are shown to be an anti-inflamatory….truly remarkable. Now, mixing with Vodka??? One drink a day…I think a nice balance here. So grab your baskets, grab someone you love to adventure with, explore and forage!!