Nettle Nest Break-Fest
At this time of year, here in the warm early spring of British Columbia, a purplish green stinging beast is beginning to wake. You know the one: Nettle. Yes, Stinging Nettle or sččix̌n̓t in nsyilxcən (Syilx/Okanagan indigenous language). Enjoy an early morning hike to your closest meadow or riverbed, gratefully gather a modest amount, and welcome this powerful spring nourishment into your winter weathered body for breakfast. Be sure to wear your gloves as you harvest this wild mineral-rich green beauty who tastes much like spinach but boasts 10 times the amount of iron as Popeye’s oldest friend. Here, here to an unsung hero!
- 1 egg (or two if you’re real hungry)
- 2 green onions (thinly sliced)
- 1 clove of garlic (peeled, finely chopped)
- 1 pile of sččix̌n̓t, used whole – no need to chop (foraging notes below)
- 2 tbs. butter
- Splash of water
- Pinches of salt, black pepper, cayenne to taste
- Heat a good-sized pan on medium heat.
- Add 1 tbs. of butter and let it melt.
- Throw in green onions. Sizzle and stir until tender.
- Use tongs or gloved hands to add the sččix̌n̓t. Stir.
- Add garlic and just enough water to calm the sizzling pan. Stir.
- When water has mostly steamed off and the sččix̌n̓t is tender, collect all the greens, onion, garlic into a little round nest in the middle of your pan. Lay in the other tbs. of butter and slowly crack your egg/s right over top.
- Let cook until the white of the egg is relatively solid.
- Flip carefully and quickly. Turn off the heat and wait a couple minutes for an over easy breakie. Alternatively, turn down heat and slow cook to your liking for an over hard yolk.
- Serve. Add salt, pepper, cayenne pepper to taste.
Save a large cup of the fresh greens and stuff them into an old 1 L pickle jar. Add 1 tbs. of honey. Pour boiling water over it all and let steep 5 minutes for a nourishing tea.
Foraging Notes: The sččix̌n̓t plant grows in meadows and near streams in North America from early April into the fall. It is the first green leafy looking low-lying plant of the season, found in open meadows and by streams. Wear gloves, shoes, and pants while foraging. The sting from the micro silica hairs on the underside of the leaves and stems is from formic acid, used in arthritic therapy. Cooking and bruising the leaves will pop the acidic bubbles making the plant harmless when eaten. Cut the central stem just above the ground, right beneath the first set of leaves when the baby plants are about 6 to 8 inches high. The sččix̌n̓t harvest only lasts a few weeks until the plant begins to flower, so get ‘em while they’re fresh! For botanical identification and photos click here.
About Leila Neverland:
Leila Neverland’s heart shines through everything she does. From interdisciplinary theatre performances and live rock n’ roll concerts, to collaborative workshops for children and setting up Pianos in the Park in downtown Kelowna, this lady breathes creativity. During this time away from live performance and touring, her humongous voice can be heard echoing the forests as she and her homeschooled children forage, learn, eat, and revel in awe of how these forests so graciously support us. She also used this time off to create her latest single and music video, River and is currently working on a full-length album due out later this year.