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Saturday, April 09, 2011

Veggie's Delight: Creamy Nettles with Wild Garlic, Saffron & Mustard Seeds

My mother recently gave me a tray of boiled frozen nettles and, since I have never cooked nettles before (though I lived on this minty plant in spring as a child), I decided to give it a shot. Romanian-style nettle recipes include flour and/or oil, so going traditional was not an option. Some weeks ago I found an appetizing recipe by Nigel Slater in The Guardian, and because it had been on my mind ever since, it was now a good excuse to try his version.

Creamy Nettles with Ramson, Saffron, Mustard Seeds and Parmesan

adapted from Nigel Slater, The Guardian

In Romania you know spring has arrived when the farmers' market is abundant in the first produce of the year: radishes, spinach, ramson, nettles. It is nature's way to tell us that winter is over.

Type of cuisine: European/Vegetarian, low fat

Cooking time: less than 15 minutes

Difficulty: very easy :)

400 gr of nettles

2 bunches of fresh ramson leaves (approx 100 leaves)

3 tsp crushed mustard seeds

1 tsp freshly crushed coriander seeds

1 small diced tomato (or 2 tbs of diced canned tomatoes)

1/2 glass of single cream (low-fat, 15%)



ciabatta (toasted in the oven)


extra mustard seeds for decoration



Boil the nettles in salty water. Chop the ramson leaves finely. Dice the tomato. 

Heat some extra virgin olive oil in the wok and fry the coriander (1 spoon) & mustard seeds (2 spoons) till they pop. Cover - unless you want to spend the rest of the evening rubbing & polishing the cooker shiny! Add the ramson leaves and let them simmer until they reduce. Add the nettles and tomato and toss. 
In a separate bowl, pour the single cream (I always use light, low-fat cream) and mix with the saffron and the remaining tsp of mustard seeds. The cream will turn yellow. 
Pour the cream over the nettles and cook over a low flame for 5 minutes. 

In the meantime, toast some ciabatta in the oven. Serve the nettle & ramson stew on the toasted bread. Grate some parmesan - you could broil it as well.  I didn't, because I didn't have the patience :) Decorate the plate with parmesan, sumac and extra mustard seeds. 

The refined taste & crunchy texture of the ciabatta were blending to perfection.  What a great combination! I couldn't get enough of it. It was a delicious vegetarian meal that I loved to the last bite. 

In lieu of conclusion

Because ramson is also known as wild garlic, I did without proper garlic and I also skipped the salt (it proved to be a naturally salty dish). If you use full-fat cream (30% fat or more), you can mix it with warm water to thin it a little.

Nettles on toasted ciabatta & grated parmesan 
Sumac, mustard seeds & parmesan


  1. Thanks for this unique recipe! I must try and find some nettles so I can try it out! I have been intrigude by nettles since moving to the UK where I had nettle tea for the first time :)

  2. I love nettles. They are much nicer than spinach, I must say. I was bound to a nettles diet ;) every spring when I was a child, though I don't remember having nettle tea. I love your site, btw. Just discovered it today through Chef Bosco. Love, xx