The Queen of Weeds

“Do you see this stinging nettle in my hand? Those you must gather, although they will burn your hands to blisters. Crush the nettles with your feet and you will have flax, which you must spin and weave into eleven shirts of mail with long sleeves. Once you throw these over the eleven wild swans, the spell over them is broken!”. Well, if we listen to the fairy who explains to Elisa her task in The wild swans, a fairy tale by Hans C. Andersen, the nettle cloth just sounds like a torture and a punishment, the sole purpose of which is the spinner’s penance. Actually, the tough nettle yarn has been used for ages, in a similar way to the canvas. During the Second World War, in Germany, they made blankets for the military with it, and, much more recently, fashion has rediscovered it because it looks natural and its cultivation doesn’t need pesticide. The nettle has always been considered a precious herb. It is a great green fertiliser, still used today in the organic agriculture, and it is an excellent remedy for anaemia, given that it is very rich in iron. But, above all, it is one of the most delicious and tasty weeds. You gather it just sprouted, in Spring or Autumn, early in the morning, when the dew makes it less urticating. If you know how to take that, you can even do without the gloves. You can dry it to make herb teas or to flavour the soup, or even you can freeze it after you blanched it, in the same way as you do with the spinaches. Fresh is delicious in risotto and in soup, it may be a perfect filling for ravioli or potpies. You can do also vegetarian balls or a surprising variant of the Genovese pesto. But probably the most traditional recipe is that of gnocchi, so green and smelling: Stinging Nettle Gnocchi You can find the recipe here Find out more: H. C. Andersen, The Wild Swans Nettlecraft Oreste Mattirolo, Phytoalimurgia pedemontana. Come alimentarsi con le piante selvatiche, Blu Edizioni, 2011 Meret Bissenger, La mia cucina con le piante selvatiche, Casagrande 2011 (German edition) Richard Mabey’s works Stinging nettle gnocchi: video recipe (italian) Benefits Of Stinging Nettles Credits: goRillA-iNK Worldlabel