Here in the Northeast, it’s been raining a LOT. We’ve had only a few clear days in the past couple of months. The forests are cloaked in an ever-present fog, the trees half-shrouded and bowing under the weight of the clinging mist.
It’s been like a long, intensive training session for people who are thinking of moving to a rain forest.
After a brief spell of frustration and sadness at not seeing the sun EVER, I decided to just embrace the rain and be outside anyway. The cool, wet forest has is it’s own kind of charm after a while. The leaves shine with water droplets and the whole landscape takes on an ancient, dreamlike quality. It’s easier to melt into the green world. You can feel it humming and drinking and growing, its gratitude for rain.
That said, I was really excited when the sun came out one afternoon a couple of weeks ago. Margaret was visiting and we decided to take advantage of the brief moment of clear skies and go out to harvest nettle.
The birds and tree frogs were taking advantage of the break in the weather too – everything was singing.
The nettles had grown really fast from all the rain – we easily filled up my backpack with the fresh greens.
We had no plans for dinner that night, so we decided to try making nettle spanakopita. Spanakopita is is essentially leafy greens, cheese, and seasoning wrapped up and baked into phyllo dough triangles. They’re really easy to make and a great way to get in a serving or two of greens. Nettle is especially high in vitamins and minerals – eating them can give you a major energy boost. Plus, they’re really tasty!
I’d seen a few recipes for Spanakopita that used nettle before and we had a pretty good idea of how to make them, so we sort of came up with our own version – they turned out really well, so I decided to share our recipe!
2 cups cooked nettle greens (this is about 6 cups uncooked)
2 tbsp + 1 tsp olive oil
12 oz feta cheese
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 can sliced olives (we used black, but I think either green or kalamata would be delicious too!)
1 roll phyllo pastry, thawed
1 tbsp lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350 F.
After washing the nettle, give it a rough chop. Add it to a pan of boiling water and cook until very tender, about 5 minutes. Strain, and add the nettle to a bowl. Let it cool a bit.
Meanwhile, mince the garlic and saute over medium-high heat in 1 tsp of olive oil until fragrant and slightly browned, about 2 minutes.
Add the garlic, feta, olive oil, lemon juice, olives, salt and pepper to the nettle and mix well.
On a clean surface, lay out a single sheet of phyllo dough, brush lightly with olive oil, and add another sheet on top. Slice the dough into three long rectangles.
Next, add about 1/4 cup of the nettle mixture to a lower corner of the pastry. Fold in repeating triangles all the way to the top of the dough, then seal with a little more oil. Repeat until all the filling is used up.
Place triangles on a lined baking sheet and cook for 15-20 minutes until the phyllo is golden brown.
Let cool slightly and serve. Enjoy!