Today on a work related trip I got to hop a floatplane to outer Uyak Bay to help with a deer mortality study (more on this in another post). But basically I got to check on archaeological sites and collect the first spring greens of the year. Archaeological sites are the best place to find nettles and I collected a bunch for when I got home. So exciting to eat the first spring greens and still in April no less!
This is what I did for tonight's Dinner. First step was picking the nettles. As you can see below they are quite tender and small. You only pick the tip of each plant. Some people like to use gloves to prevent stings, but I find if I pick them with an upward motion and if they are small that the stings are bearable. I pick more than i think I need because they always settle a lot in the pan when cooked.
First step back home is to heat up the frying pan and to cook some sort of ham product. In the field I usually use SPAM, and i think that is my top choice. But tonight I had no SPAM in the cabinet - so I used some Open Nature brand canadian bacon. After browning the bacon I took it out of the pan and set aside.
The next step is to cook the nettles. I added a healthy dollop of oil and then the nettles. I stirred the nettles around on high heat until they were coated in oil and wilted slightly. Then I added a cup of water and the resulting explosion of moisture flashed steamed the nettles. Once all the water had steamed off I put the ham back in the pan and served the dish. Yum.
I think it is best to use a cast iron skillet.
I think nettles are one of my favorite vegetables. No need even for a garden - they are free for the collecting. And best of all readily available in Alaska at the end of April! Patrick