Nettle Temptation

In May, when we gathered some goutweed, we also picked up a lot of nettles (Urtica dioica). Usually, we make pancakes or a sauce from nettles, but this time we wanted to do something different. A non-vegan version of this recipe by Vivi-Ann Sjögren was in the monthly Kuukausiliite supplement of the Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat.

Why call it a temptation, you might ask. There’s a Swedish (non-vegetarian) dish called Janssons frestelse, which is a bit similar to this dish, and the name translates as Jansson’s Temptation.

  • 7 potatoes, chopped into sticks
  • 4 onions, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 2 liters of fresh nettles (or more)
  • 3 tablespoons capers (or more)
  • 2 dl oat cream
  • dry bread crumbs
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • margarine

First, we chopped potatoes into sticks, and sliced the onions. We fried the onion over medium heat until translucent, and removed it from heat. Then we boiled the nettles in lightly salted water for a couple of minutes, and drained them. Now, we crushed the garlic, chopped the nettles, and fried them lightly on medium heat.

Next, we oiled a 28 x 19 cm baking pan, and started adding layers of potatoes, onions, nettles, and capers, in this order. After each full round we added salt, pepper and bread crumbs. We finished with an extra layer of potatoes, poured in the cream evenly, sprinkled the bread crumbs, and added a few dollops of margarine.

The temptation was baked in 200 degrees Celsius until the potatoes were cooked. In our oven this took 55 minutes. If the potatoes start to burn but are not yet cooked, cover the pan with aluminum foil.

We ate the temptation together with some pan-fried tofu.

Note: When gathering nettles, try to pick up only smallish ones – they shouldn’t be more than 20 cm high. The stalks and leaves of the younger nettles are still soft, and better for cooking.

7 Comments

  1. Posted July 19, 2008 at 18:41 | Permalink

    I feel tempted :-). Now I only have to find out what nettles are!

  2. Heikki
    Posted July 19, 2008 at 19:07 | Permalink

    Wikipedia is handy for that. I always go to the English page, in this case, the page describing what nettles are, and then select from the left panel the language I want to translate the concept to. It’s often much better than a dictionary, especially if it’s a concept I’m looking to translate, not just a word.

    Nettles grow everywhere in Finland, I think they should be easy to find in Germany too. =)

  3. Posted July 19, 2008 at 22:10 | Permalink

    I have never heard of nettles but I bet they are growing down by the river trail in my small town. I wonder if they taste similar to dandelion greens, which I love. This will be great to try once I find some. Maybe even Whole Foods might have them. Thanks for delish eye candy.

  4. Posted July 20, 2008 at 11:34 | Permalink

    I really like how you use greens and herbs that people normally would consider a plague and remove from their gardens. (At least where I live). I mean, you don’t even have to buy things like nettles, goutweed or dandelions. The are just there, in the woods or fields. I definitely have to pick some nettles and make this dish.

  5. Heikki
    Posted July 22, 2008 at 11:06 | Permalink

    Jan, the taste of nettles remind me a bit of spinach, especially if made into a sauce. It’s been a while since I’ve had dandelions in a salad, but I think they taste different.

    Remember to pick them far away from any roads!

    Mihl, we haven’t been using wild vegetables a lot, but we’ve been trying to use them more. There’s so much greens growing in the forest that people have forgotten about, here in Finland too. Nettles is something that I’ve always gathered — I’ve learned it from my mother and grandmother!

  6. Posted July 28, 2008 at 15:52 | Permalink

    We have nettle in the states…stinging nettle…which I’ve mostly commonly heard people making tea from.

  7. Heikki
    Posted July 28, 2008 at 16:09 | Permalink

    I think my grandmother brewed tea from it as well. But it works great in a casserole too! =)

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