Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Nettle and Ricotta Frittata

I recently made two recipes from Deborah Madison’s Local Flavors: Cooking and Eating from America’s Farmers’ Markets. I am not sure I entirely grok the organizing concept for this book. Surely every cookbook is a farmers’ market cookbook if you get your ingredients from your farmers’ market, but since this is a book of recipes by Deborah Madison, and I since would follow Deborah Madison into the mouth of a live volcano, I am willing to set aside any quibbles. There are many pretty pictures too. The previous night I had read a recipe for nettle frittata with green garlic and Sheep’s milk ricotta. I have long wanted to try a recipe for fresh nettles, having so far only made nettle tea, but somehow, I never seemed to find any when I wanted them. And then, the next day, there they were, providentially beside some sheep’s milk ricotta at the next stand.

As gingerly as I tried to handle my bunch of nettles before cooking them, I did get one small burn, but really, nothing to complain about. Once cooked, the nettles will not sting. The flavor of cooked nettles is very different from other greens. They are not bitter, but I would not say they are sweet or mild, either. They are sort of earthy and mineral. I will certainly try them again when I get a chance.

Nettle and Ricotta Frittata (adapted from Local Flavors by Deborah Madison)

1 bunch stinging nettles (my bunch was about ¾ pound)

1 small onion, sliced

2 cloves garlic, sliced

olive oil (be liberal)

8 eggs

½ cup grated Romano (I used aged oldwick sheep cheese)

½ cup sheep’s milk ricotta or other ricotta

salt, pepper and paprika to taste

Wear gloves or some other kind of protection while handling raw nettles. Blanch the nettles in boiling water for about two minutes. Allow them to drain, pull the leaves off the stems, and chop the leaves.

Heat oil in a skillet and cook the onions and garlic over low heat until soft and fragrant. Add the chopped nettles and cook a few minutes more. Allow the vegetables to cool slightly. Beat the eggs and season with salt, pepper, and paprika. Stir in the nettles and cheeses, leaving the batter streaky. Heat some more oil in the skillet and pour in the nettle-egg mixture. When the bottom is set, place the pan under the broiler to cook the top. You can also bake the frittata at 375 for about 35 minutes.

The other recipe I made from this book was this Lebanese soup of favas, herbs, and string beans, also highly recommended.

A roundup of other dangerous but delicious vegetables is to be found at Sweetnicks.

Food and Drink, Recipes, Cooking, Food, Vegetarian, vegetables, antioxidant-rich foods, farms


Anonymous Nomi said...

I haven't read the cookbook in question, but perhaps the difference with this cookbook is that the ingredients are all in season simultaneously, thus getable at a farmer's market and not reliant on imported produce. If you try a recipe for rhubarb and pumpkin, for example, I can't actually think of a region of North America where both those things would be ripe at the same time. But then, a recipe for rhubarb and pumpkin would be well worth missing anyway.

8:10 PM  
Anonymous lindy said...

Man, this looks good. Nettles are, as yet, really not appearing in Pittsburgh farmers' markets. The only time I ever tried them was on my solitarary and much anticipated and saved for visit to Chez Panisse, while visiting my daughter, years ago in Berkeley. They were on a pizza of some sort, and really knocked my socks off.

I agree that:

a)Deborah Madison is to be followed anywhere, and

b) That particular book, though very pretty, is hard to use. The organization is by season. But DM did so much traveling around the country to different farmers' markets, that it is unlikely any one stationary person will have most of the ingredients for the stuff in the season in question.

If you see what I mean.

8:44 AM  
Anonymous lindy said...

Well, I really should be able to spell "solitary" by now. Hey, that still looks wrong.

8:46 AM  
Blogger Anna said...

i love the idea of eating nettles. something so potentially painful and yet also offering valuable nutriants.
the flavour is always so verdant and earthy that you just know it's doing you good somehow.

9:59 PM  
Blogger Butchery on Bond Street said...

Again I've stumbled across somthing I never thought I would: a recipe for eating nettles, that commonest of "weed." Tempted? For sure. But too heartsick to try. I've recently read "A Woman in Berlin" [by Anonymous], a diary kept for the none-too-few months that the author survived in end-of-the-War Berlin among the bombed-out buildings and marauding Soviet troops. Many days, nettles were her only subsistence. It's a non-sequitur, I know. I don't care. She was alone, the author, but in another sense not at all. Read the book. Yesterday. You'll never be the same...

4:07 PM  
Blogger the chocolate lady מרת שאקאלאד said...

nomi, lindy, anna, and BOBS,

Thanks very much. These vegetables are an intriguing and surprising find. I will try to find the book.

1:05 PM  

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