Stinging nettles are easy to identify and one of the most nutritious wild foods out there. Spring is the perfect time to forage for these tender and tasty greens. Studies suggest that eating nettles may reduce inflammation, hay fever symptoms, blood pressure and blood sugar levels — among other benefits. And they are so delicious! Why not grab some gloves and a colander and head out to gather some free food for your lunch? Just pick lots of the tender top 4-6 leaves, the tips of the nettles, like in the photo above. Then when you’ve filled your colander, take it home and give the nettle tips a good rinse. Always pick nettles away from polluted roads sides and avoid places that may have been sprayed.
Here’s my simple nettle soup recipe but you can do so much more with nettles. Pesto, salsa verde, add them to quiches, pies, stews… use it like spinach basically. I love nettles in a spanakopita type filo pastry pie. Share your favourite nettle recipe with use below in the comments? Liz x
Ingredients (serves 4)
1 tbsp oil
2 or 3 carrots
4 cloves of garlic
1 stock cube
4 large handfuls of nettle tips
the juice of half a lemon
salt and pepper to taste
Dice and sauté the onions, garlic and carrots in the oil until just softening and starting to take on some colour.
Then dice and add the potatoes to the pot and generously cover the vegetables with water. Crumble in a stock cube and simmer with the lid on until the potatoes are soft.
Add the rinsed nettle tips to the pot.
Stir the nettle tip into the soup and simmer for just 2 or 3 minutes. Then add the lemon juice and blend the soup with an immersion blender. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed with salt and pepper.
I always keep a kitchen cupboard stocked with tins of beans, tomatoes, coconut milk and jackfruit. Having a repertoire of store-cupboard suppers is very useful when you are subscribed to a veg box delivery. Depending on what’s going on each week, sometimes I have a bit of fresh fruit and veg leftover when the new, weekly box arrives and sometimes I need to make a store-cupboard supper or two before it arrives and that’s totally fine! Especially with the range of brilliant, organic groceries at Green Earth Organics. What a luxury to be able to eat fresh, organic vegetables most days, and organic store-cupboard ingredients on other days!
Here’s one of our current store-cupboard staples, a spicy, Jamaican inspired jerk stew with the most delicious coconutty red beans and rice!
As always, please share your photos of your version of the recipe with our friendly community Facebook group. We love to see our recipes leave the blog! Liz x
Put the rice, coconut milk and drained tin of beans into a small pot. Add the onion wedge and whole cloves and a pinch of salt. Add a mug of water then stir briefly to combine.
Bring the rice pot to the boil with the lid on, then immediately as it comes to the boil, turn the heat down to the lowest setting, leave the lid on, do not stir, and allow the rice to gently simmer and absorb all the liquid in the pot.
For white rice this only takes about 15-20 minutes, brown rice takes double that time. So if you are using brown rice, get it assembled and on to boil first, if you are using white rice, get the stew on first then the rice.
Arn’t we lucky that the worlds tastiest organic carrots are a staple in every weekly Green Earth Organics veg box? Here’s one way to use them up in something a little bit different. Before going plant based, smoked salmon and soft scrambled eggs was one of my favourite breakfasts, reserved for special occasions like Christmas morning, Mother’s Day birthdays and so on. So I’ve recreated the dish with smoked carrot strips and scrambled, wobbly, silken tofu. It’s honestly, so delicious! Especially when accompanied with a celebratory glass of fizz (we also do this alcohol free one).
Carrots are perfect for this dish, they’re just the right colour and texture. When steam-baked with all the salty, tangy, smokey flavours they get just soft enough, but at the same time hold their shape perfectly. And of course you can also use this part of the recipe in any dish where smoked salmon is required. On bagels with cream cheese and capers? Stirred through a creamy pasta? As part of a lazy sushi bowl?
Silken tofu is the best tofu to use for making scramble. I see a lot of recipes calling for firm tofu, but it’s much too dry. Scramble should be silky soft, wobbly and beautifully buttery. If you are really missing that eggy flavour, get hold of some black salt and sprinkle over a tiny pinch of that just before piling on the smoked carrots. It’s sublime!
As always, let us know in the comments or over on our friendly Facebook page if you make this dish. We love to see what you’ve been cooking! Liz x
Scrub the carrots then use a peeler to cut as many long strips as you can out of them. You’ll be left with thick middle bits – just eat those with hummus or chop them up and stick them in a soup or a stew.
Then put all the ingredients in a small baking dish and toss the carrots strips well so that they are all evenly coated in the marinade.
Cover the dish with foil or a baking sheet and put it in a preheated oven at 200C for 15-20 minutes or until the carrot strips are soft, but not too soft… Take the dish out every 5-10 minutes and stir to ensure the pieces of carrots on the sides of the dish are not getting over cooked.
Then put the steam-baked carrots and all the juices into a small box or covered bowl in the fridge overnight or for at least a couple of hours to marinade further.
Serve piled up on buttery toast with scrambled tofu and sprigs of dill.
Making a wobbly, delicious scramble is easy with silken tofu. Simply heat up a knob of butter in a pan until it melts, add the contents of a pack of silken tofu (I really like the Clearspring Organic one), season it with salt, pepper and a pinch of ground turmeric and heat up. Stir gently to break up the tofu into little curds as you heat. Then serve it on buttery toast and add an optional sprinkle of eggy black salt.
Sometimes in winter, you need a break from all the soups, stews and pies and want something fresh and vibrant. A warm winter salad is the answer. This is less of a recipe and more of a suggestion. I make versions of this fairly regularly and always make more than enough so that we have leftovers for packed lunches.
Simply chop up some winter veg into similar sized pieces (squash, onion, parsnips, cauliflower, carrots, mushrooms, beetroot…), pop them into a roasting tray with a little olive oil salt and pepper. Mix and roast at 200C until slightly charred and soft – this takes around 20-30 minutes depending on how much veg you roast.
Then pile onto some beautiful bitter leaves and dress. A creamy, tahini dressing goes really well here. Mix a couple of tbsp of tahini with a pinch of salt, a tsp maple syrup, 2 tbsp of lemon juice and two tbsp cold water. Once the dressing is well mixed it should be beautifully creamy and pourable. Taste it for seasoning and add more lemon or salt as needed. You can even pimp it up with some crushed garlic or finely chopped herbs like parsley or coriander. Then drizzle it all over the roasted veg.
Sprinkle over some crunchy, fragrant dukka (see my parsnip and pear soup recipe for that) and some sweet little pomegranate seeds. Those jewel-like seeds make everything more festive and are the perfect sweet and sour foil to the nutty, rich dressing. Enjoy!
I’ve been cooking so much with the gorgeous, super-fresh carrots from the farm recently. Carrots are one of those staple vegetables that often get overlooked as ‘boring’ and sent to the side of the plate or the base of the meal. I love elevating these humble vegetables and making them the star of the show. Once you taste the difference between watery, bland supermarket carrots and the real deal from the farm, you’ll see why I bang on about showcasing each vegetable in its own right.
Root to Shoot
I’m sure most of you already know that the carrot tops are edible too. In this recipe, and in many of my recipes, I show you how to make a meal using the whole vegetable, root to shoot! I hate waste, not just because I don’t have the cash to splash, but also because of the environmental impact. Did you know that reducing food waste has been identified as one of the most effective ways to fight climate change? According to Stop Food Waste, 1.3 billion tonnes of food is wasted each year. This directly contributes to food shortages, water stress, biodiversity loss and increased greenhouse gas emissions. Globally, more than one quarter of food produced is wasted: with food loss and waste contributing 8-10% of total emissions. So we should all do our part in reducing food waste by learning how to use the entire vegetable and putting as little as possible in the compost bin (and certainly never put food waste in the general waste heading for landfill). Apart from the environmental issues regarding food waste, it is surprising how much important dietary fibre and incredibly powerful nutrients are found in the peels and other parts of vegetables we often throw away. Good for your body, your pocket and your planet, what’s not to like?
Ingredients (to serve 4)
12 carrots and their leafy tops – carrot scrubbed and tops well rinsed
1 glass of white wine or a splash of vinegar or lemon juice
Start by removing the leafy tops from the carrots. Roughly chop them and put them in a food processor with the blade attachment. Then slice the carrots lengthways into halves or quarters, put them in a roasting dish, dress them with a little olive oil, salt and pepper and pop them in a hot oven (180C) to roast while you get on with the barleyotto/risotto.
Peel and dice the onion and start sautéing it in a heavy bottomed pan with a little olive oil. You could also add a knob of dairy free butter to the pan for extra flavour at this stage.
Dice the celery and garlic. Add 3 cloves to to the pot (along with all the celery) and one garlic clove to the food processor where you’ll make the carrot top pesto.
Season the onion, celery and garlic with a little salt and allow it to cook down and soften a little. Then add the mug of barley grains, the glass of wine (you can replace this with a small splash of cider/white wine vinegar or the juice of a lemon), the stock cube/bouillon and 3 mugs of water. (If you are using risotto rice, add the liquid gradually, stir often and allow it to soak in before adding more). Add the drained butterbeans and let the barleyotto simmer until the grains are cooked through. Stir regularly and keep an eye on the liquid levels, you may need to add more.
While the carrots and the barleyotto/risotto are cooking, focus on the pesto.
Toast the sunflower seeds in a hot, dry frying pan until they are fragrant and start to pop and colour. Then add them to the food processor with the carrot tops and garlic.
Add the juice of half a lemon or a tbsp of cider or white wine vinegar, a few tbsp of nutritional yeast (this brings an irresistible, rich, cheesy flavour to the pesto), a pinch of salt, some freshly ground back pepper and enough olive oil to blend the pesto into a bright green sauce. If you don’t have very many carrot tops you can also add some chopped kale or spinach to the blender.
Pulse the pesto until it comes together into a loose green sauce. Then taste it and adjust the seasoning if needed with extra salt, pepper, lemon juice or olive oil as you like and blend again until you are happy with the flavour and consistency.
When the barley or risotto is cooked through, taste it and check the seasoning, adjusting it if necessary. Then serve in bowls topped with roasted carrots and carrot top pesto. Any spare pesto can be kept in a jar in the fridge for up to one week. Use it in sandwiches, to top crackers or dip vegetables in, stir it through pasta or drizzle it over steamed greens or roasted vegetables.
Enjoy! 💚 Liz
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