I got a little carried away at the market the other morning. My plan was to nip up to Union Square (Farmer’s Market) quickly and gather a short list of ingredients to take upstate for the weekend. As soon as I arrived, I was instantly and delightfully overwhelmed by the beautiful array of newly arrived vegetables. The baby, colored beets, fava beans, and an abundance of sugar snaps, tender zucchinis and their blossoms all far too enticing to bypass. An hour later I struggled home with heavy full bags and a 5 ft long freshly picked elephant garlic bulb with its flower still attached. I no longer had any idea what I had gone for nor what I was making as I hadn’t even glanced at my list!
As I unpacked all the market goodies, this sauté seemed like a great way to enjoy the lovely zucchini and use up a tangle of garlic scapes I had in my fridge, as I needed to make room! I also added a bunch of nettles — I saved a handful of leaves for making tea and threw the rest into the pan.
Stinging nettles are a wild herb with a delicious verdant flavor that appear at the market in early spring and continue into summer. They are prickly and will sting you, so handle with care. Some people use gloves when plucking the leaves from the stems. I find the easiest thing to do is hold the bunch of stems with a towel and submerge them into a bowl of water to wash, shake dry and cut off the leaves with a knife starting at the base and working your way to the top, using a sawing motion. The leaves also have bristly hairs that can sting, but I don’t find them as strong as the stems. Cooking both leaves and stems removes the sting.
Nettles are a great blood enriching kidney tonic that helps build energy in the body. They help tone the reproductive system and assist in balancing hormones. Nettles are also an excellent anti-inflammatory and can be very helpful in treating anemia.
Late spring sauté
This is the kind of thing I like to make with almost any fresh tender vegetable. It’s quick, easy and delicious both warm and at room temperature.
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 medium yellow zucchini, in ¼ inch slices
10 garlic scapes, cut into ¼ inch pieces, about ½ cup
2 cups packed roughly chopped nettle leaves.
1 ½ cups sugar snap peas, de-stemmed and cut in half length ways
Cheese to garnish, I used Ourey a local aged cows milk cheese
Warm olive oil in a wide skillet over medium heat. Place zucchini in pan in a single layer, sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook for about 3 to 4 minutes, or until golden brown. Turn zucchini over and cook the other side for a couple of minutes, remove from heat and set aside.
Return skillet to heat, add a dash more olive oil if pan is dry and sauté garlic scapes for a couple of minutes. Add nettles and continue cooking until wilted. Stir in sugar snaps and cook until they turn bright green and tender. Add zucchini back in and gently stir. Serve topped with finely grated cheese if you like.
Serves 2 people.
Printable recipe here.
The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia by Rebecca Wood