Stinging Nettle and Pasta Shells
1 very large bunch of very young stinging nettle leaves, chopped*
2 large onions (I use vidalia), roughly sliced
5 to 6 medium-large cloves garlic, minced
walnut pieces or halves (toasting optional)
8 ounces semolina or whole wheat pasta shells
garlic salt and pepper
vegetable oil aplenty (I use a mild peanut oil, but olive and canola are equally good)
Wearing rubber gloves, wash your harvested nettles. If they are very young, you need not remove any of the tender stems, except of course for the underground roots. They should only take about 4 rinses of cold water in the large pot, as their leaves don't collect dirt as badly as spinach. Chop up all the leaves roughly (I use a big pair of scissors), and set them aside.
In a skillet with a couple tablespoons olive oil, stirfry the onion on medium-to-high heat, until the onions soften, about 5 minutes or so. Add the nettles- if they don't all fit, add them handfuls at a time until there's room for most or all of them. Stir well, folding the ingredients over and over each other, for around 3-5 minutes. Add the minced garlic and walnuts, and continue to cook everything until the nettles look wilted, like cooked spinach, for about 2 or 3 more minutes.
On another burner cook the pasta (you can do this while the nettles cook, too). When finished, drain and add to pan of nettles and mix them in well. Add the garlic salt, pepper, and a little extra oil. Serve hot.
Source of recipe: *As I am writing this it's early April, and the time is ripe for nettle picking! You may have been walking through the woods and encountered one of these before, as a welt-y rash that you could feel the rest of the day.
[img width=350 height=295]http://kaweahoaks.com/html/stinging_nettle_plant02.jpg[/img]
However, whereupon being carefully harvested and washed, the vegetable is perfectly good to eat, once the toxin of their hairs is obliterated by about two minutes worth of cooking. Pick them with long pants and a pair of garden gloves. Nettles are similar in taste and nutritional value to spinach, and not unlike spinach they shrink a hell of a lot when cooked. A healthy bag of them (they're very best when ontly a couple inches high- don't bother using them if they've grown above your shins, then they're hairy and awful!) is really needed. The leaves can also be dried and made into a green-tea like beverage when boiled and strained. The preparation time, BTW, does not include the time it takes to harvest the plant.