Strange and likeable Thai peanut noodles with stinging nettle

This slightly spicy, gluten-free noodle dish was originally inspired by an evening warbling along with Tegan and Sara’s “Back in Your Head” while finishing one of my last formal reports at UBC. I especially adore this live version.

nettles Although a blog visitor was generous enough to share the directions to her favourite  nettle-picking cache with me, I found myself biking around Point Grey on a wild nettle chase of sorts last Sunday.  I was becoming increasingly anxious about needing to return home to cook for my lunch guests, and I started making a series of of trigger happy false IDs along the side of the road (no doubt irritating the heck out of grim-faced, spandex-clad, Sunday morning cyclists with all of my sudden stops). 

Just as I was about to settle for mundane, store-bought spinach instead of wild nettles, I noticed a few clumps of escaped Hesperis matronalis that I figured would be quite nice in a Mother’s Day bouquet. As I parked my bike to snip a few stems, I glanced behind the blossoms and realized that I had stumbled upon, well, the mother lode. The lush, completely unharvested patch of nettles beyond the Hesperis was a thrill to behold, and it was probably one of the last harvests that I will have this year (large-leaved, late-season nettles shouldn’t really be eaten).

Quick note on the ethics of wild harvesting: Weeds are usually a safe bet for wild harvesting, but it’s clearly important to avoid trampling or otherwise harming their surrounding natural habitat when gathering them.

Makes enough for about 6 servings.
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Thai peanut sauce

  • 1.5 cups smooth, unsalted peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • Juice of 4 limes
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 Jalapeno pepper (2 peppers for a spicier version)
  • 7 Tbsp ginger
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 large white or yellow onion
  • 1 tsp salt

Combine everything in a blender or food processor, and blend until smooth.  Add extra water if necessary for a less viscous consistency.

Stinging nettle with Crimini mushrooms

  • 20 mushrooms (crimini or other), sliced
  • 5 packed cups of stinging nettle (spinach is a thoroughly decent alternative)
  • 1 chopped garlic clove
  • 1/2 white or yellow onion
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • Dash of organic tamari sauce (optional)

Slip on a pair of rubber gloves, and thoroughly wash nettles by soaking and straining them in a large bowl.  Chop coarsely, and set aside.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan to medium, and add onion and garlic. Saute for several minutes, and add mushrooms and optional tamari sauce. Cook until mushrooms are tender (~7 minutes), and then stir in stinging nettle.  Remove from heat once the nettles are wilted but still bright green.

Noodles

Cook according to package directions. The Tinkyada website also has a page with directions for quick and energy-saving cooking.

Combine sauce, noodles, and stinging nettle mixture. Serve hot, and sprinkle with salmonberry petals (optional).
arbour

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