Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Iron Chef Challenge...Nettles

I received the greatest email this past weekend form my good friend Lea. She gave me my first Iron Chef Challenge, now if you know me you would know I have watched so many episodes of Iron Chef I cannot say Nettles in this context without a horrible reproduction of the way they would present the secret ingredient in the actual show.

Furthermore, Lea has decided it was time for us to take our hippiness to the next level...foraging. And what would be better than to begin this voyage in her backyard, you see in Leas backyard she as a nice little grove of trees and within that grove of trees you can find plenty of nettles.

THe secret ingredient.
The parameters are as follows, I had to think of a recipe that was not so out there and family friendly.

So I took on the challenge, which was exciting, seeing as I had never cooked with nettles before.

Immediately I thought of pesto, in the kitchen we make pesto out all sorts of leafy green herbs and so why not nettles? This would follow all of the rules as well because pasta tossed with pesto is a family friendly meal.

I had to have the recipe to her by Tuesday morning, so I packed up so things and headed over for coffee and nettle hunting. The gathering part was a bit comical because they are stinging nettles and so you can't just pick them with your hands. Tongs and a pair of scissors were our tools of choice. For the pesto recipe we needed about 6 cups of nettle leaves and thankfully we had no problem gathering that much.


Now the secret to keeping pesto bright green during storage is to blanch whatever leafy green product you are using before processing. So we took all of the leaves off the stems, blanched them until they turned bright green, spun them in the salad spinner and threw them in the food processor. To that we added the usual ingredients for pesto making, toasted pine nuts, parm, olive oil, and garlic. Next time I would add one glove of garlic instead of two because the nettles do not pack the same flavorful punch as basil.

And this is what it looked like. Not the best picture, but isn't it a pretty green.

Well we didn't waste anytime so we enjoyed it for lunch with some pasta and sundried tomatoes.....yummmmmmmm!
Pasta with Stinging Nettle Pesto. Yum!

So keep the challenges coming folks, this was a ton of fun.

Pesto Recipe
6 cups - Nettles, Basil, Tarragon, Mint-you choose
1/3 cup pine nuts
1-2 cloves garlic
1/3 cup parm
pulse these ingredients in a food processor or blender.
slowly drizzle in 1/3 cup olive oil.
Toss or spread it on whatever you choose. You could also use it on homemade pizza instead of red sauce.

And by the way neither one of us experienced any sort of health or digestive upset in the consumption of this recipe:)


The Mom said...

I'm so glad you mentioned the garlic. I would totally agree. A little overpowering. Also, a little more salt - or maybe I should have just salted the pasta water more aggressively??? At any rate, it was VERY fun and delicious. I am so proud of us!

Julie said...

I think you guys are In. Sane. But I still love you. ;) Hey Jessica - just got your comment you left. I haven't been home All. Day. So sorry I missed you when you drove out to the boonies! No worries. My mom is in Hawaii right now so she doesn't need a cookie scoop at the moment. ;) I'll get it from you after spring break, OK?