From the story:

Wild Spring
Nettles (Urtica dioica), a vibrant spring medicinal, can be delicious in the kitchen

Recipe and photos by Anna Marie Beauchemin
Clinical Herbalist, East Bay Herbals

 

 

Welcome spring with this simple yet elegant preparation of nettles, which I learned to make while working with an herbalist in France. The recipe reflects her provincial take on this classic wild-food-inspired dish.

Makes one 9-inch pie

¼–½ pound rinsed nettle leaves and tops
¼–½ cup apple cider vinegar
1 recipe of your favorite double-crust pie dough (I like the basic pie dough recipe in the Joy of Cooking)
2–3 tablespoons butter (or cooking oil of choice)
2 or 3 small shallots, minced
2 or 3 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon chopped herbs such as thyme, savory, or tarragon (optional)
¼ cup grated Gruyère or Emmental cheese
¼ cup goat cheese, crumbled
1 egg, lightly beaten

Wearing rubber gloves, pick the leaves off the nettle stems and place into a large bowl with water to cover. Stir in the apple cider vinegar and let nettles soak for 15 to 20 minutes.

While the nettles are soaking, make your pie dough and let it chill.

Strain and rinse nettles thoroughly in a colander. Leave in colander to dry.

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat and cook minced shallots and garlic for 2 to 3 minutes. Wearing your gloves, add the rinsed and drained nettles to the pan, stirring often as they cook. Add salt, pepper, and desired herbs and allow nettles to cook for 5 to 10 minutes or until fully wilted and cooked through. Remove from heat and let cool.

Preheat oven to 425°. Roll out half of the pie dough and use it to line your pie pan. Also roll out the top crust or make a lattice to cover.

Layer a third of the Gruyère and goat cheese into the bottom of the prepared pie shell. Layer half of the nettles over the cheese. Then layer in another third of the cheese, the remaining nettles, and finally the remaining cheese. Place lattice over pie. If using a full top crust instead, add slits for ventilation. Brush the top of the pie with beaten egg and bake for 45 to 60 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Let cool slightly and serve warm.

Anna Marie Beauchemin is a trained clinical herbalist, educator, and writer based in Martinez, California. She works throughout the San Francisco Bay Area offering herbal consultations, workshops, and trainings. She loves writing about the intersection between the culinary and medicinal worlds and creating seasonally relevant herbal recipes. Learn more at eastbayherbals.com.