Wild Nettle Season: Nettle Yogurt Dip Recipe – by Loba

by on April 2nd, 2009
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 We’ve been wildly busy this week, and Kiva sends her apologies for delayed email responses.  Besides hosting valued student guests, we have doing the final layout of the kid’s book “I’m a Medicine Woman, Too!”, adding additional resources and art, getting it ready for release in one month!  A big welcome to our latest Correspondence Course students, and love to everyone from all of us!

Wild Nettle Season:

Savory Buckwheat Cakes with Nettle Yogurt Dip

by Loba


lobarhinettles.jpgDespite their somewhat scary reputation, Stinging Nettles are beautiful and healthful plants. Packed with Protein (more so than even beans!), Iron, Calcium, Magnesium and vitamins A and C, these glowing native plants are one of the most nutritious and tasty greens available anywhere. Native Americans knew about the bounty of the Nettles and used them for fiber as well as food.  Each Springtime, Rhiannon, Kiva and I can all be found excitedly watching the young Stinging Nettles come up beneath the oaks and willows. The moment they’re big enough we pick a bagful for this delicate and flavorful dip! We’re always sure to pick the young Nettle shoots with sturdy gloves on so as not to be stung by the formic acid (the same substance that fire ants contain) that is released by the tiny hairs that cover Nettles. Don’t worry, the sting in Nettles disappears completely when they’re boiled. We love Nettle Yogurt Dip on homemade challah toast with cheese and toasted almonds, whether for dinner for breakfast… but also try it on a hot baked potato, topped with a poached egg.

It’s truly been a wonderful year for nettles!!!  We’ve been harvesting and eating them like crazy! What an incredible joy it is to spend the afternoon crouching under the juniper and oaks, soaking in Spring’s sweet sunshine and the glorious green magic of the nettle plants, who seem to be growing taller with every moment that passes by! As soon as we get enough for a giant potful, we go for a splash and a dunk in the crisp cold river, and then plan the evening meal all refreshed! We’ve been cooking up the nettles over the fire, sometimes outdoors, or inside on the wood cookstove when it’s too windy. Some of the cooked nettles get bagged up to go to Ryan’s freezer, and many others get eaten!

Right now, here in the canyon, it’s the ultimate time to harvest. The plants are incredibly abundant and about 6-8 inches tall. At this height, the stalks are still tender enough to enjoy as well as the beautiful leaves, and can even be used in the following very tasty dip. I’ve been using a hand blender to make sure the stalks are thoroughly ground up. Here’s the recipe for you, from that eternally-in-progress cookbook of mine!

nettleflower.jpgNettle (or Spinach) Yogurt Dip
(Serves 2 or more)

1 cup of steamed nettles (or cooked spinach)
3/4-1 cup yogurt (or goat milk yogurt, or a mixture of yogurt and cream cheese, or sour cream and soft goat cheese!)
4 to 6 cloves of garlic, minced
Lemon juice, fresh, to taste
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Steam the nettles or spinach leaves until they’re tender, usually about  15-20 minutes. Place the nettles with the yogurt in a bowl and blend well with a fork, or mash in a mortar with a pestle. It’s hard to get spinach soft enough to blend with a fork, so you might want to use a blender or a food mill. Cook the garlic over low heat in a buttered skillet until barely golden. Add the garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper. After working everything together, taste and adjust salt, pepper, and lemon juice to your taste.

This morning we had the most delicious breakfast! I had made a double batch of nettle dip some days ago, and remembered a wonderful-looking recipe in Sandoor Katz’s incredible book Wild Fermentation. He uses homemade kefir in making these great savory pancakes called Drawoe Kura, from Tibet. I thought, how great these would be made with nettle dip instead of kefir! We ate them this morning with some extra nettle dip and melted butter, a bit of warmed-up leftover red wine-braised chicken, with a mug of today’s freshly boiled nettles in their cooking water served on the side. Homemade chutney and some kalamata olives were very nice with all of that, too, but entirely optional! Rhiannon was enjoying her breakfast so much she said wistfully, “I wish I could eat this forever”.

Savory Buckwheat Cakes with Nettle Dip:

1 cup Nettle Dip (or yogurt or kefir)
1 cup buckwheat flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup water
olive oil, for cooking

nettlepot.jpgWith a whisk or a fork, combine all ingredients. Heat a large skillet to medium-high, and pour about a tablespoon of oil in the pan. (I used some homemade Rosemary Oil). Ladle a small amount of batter in three or four places in the pan, for small pancakes. Let brown on one side before flipping and browing on the next. Serve with butter and more Nettle Dip, some fresh ground pepper, and whatever else you might fancy.  Enjoy!


If you think you don’t have a nearby Stinging Nettle patch look again, they’re more common than you probably think! Try searching for them in shady spots near a river or where there’s moisture. In the event that there really isn’t any in your area spinach makes a good substitute.

-Love, Loba

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