This past weekend I had the opportunity to cook in a wood fired oven. The high temps inside the earthen oven cranked around 800°F and cooked flatbreads in a matter of minutes. The smokey flavor it added to the roasted carrots was a surprising treat for many, but it was the nettle chimichurri that was the highlight of the entree I served to 40+ guests at Village Farm in Freedom, Maine.
In Argentina, chimichurri is a green herb based sauce, sort of like a chunky vinaigrette, which usually contains parsley, olive oil, garlic, and vinegar. Nettle, with its vibrant green flavor works perfectly in this recipe.
I'd suggest that nettle is one of the most nutritious leafy greens available to us, and best of all, it's free if you can find a patch. A vigorous perennial, stinging nettles (Urtica dioica) love moist woodlots, disturbed soils, and riversides. Although I don't feel too bothered by the stings, some people can be sensitive to the micro hairs that line the stalks of this dioecious plant.
If you do find the money spot, nettles can be harvested, dried, and consumed throughout the year as a delicious tea.
Enjoy this recipe with your favorite meats, preferably grilled, or top roasted potatoes.
- 6-8 cups fresh stinging nettles
- 3 garlic cloves
- 2 teaspoon capers
- 2 tablespoons freshly chopped oregano
- 2 tablespoons freshly chopped cilantro
- 1 teaspoon toasted and ground cumin
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 jalapeno, minced (optional)
- a pinch of two of sea salt
- Bring 8 cups of salted water to a boil.
- Meanwhile, carefully remove the nettle leaves from the spiny stalks.
- When the water comes to temp, submerge the nettles and blanch for about 1 minute. Remove from the water and submerge in ice water to immediately stop the cooking.
- Once cooled, drain well.
- Place the drained nettles onto a cutting board along with the garlic, capers, optional jalapeno, and herbs. Chop well until all are well combined. Scoop the green mixture into a bowl then stir in the oil, vinegar, cumin, and sea salt.
- The mixture should be thick, but oily.
- Let the sauce stand for 20 minutes before serving. This will stay fresh for a week or so in the fridge. To store, top the nettle mixture with more olive oil so that it keeps submerged under the oil.