Butter glazed nettles is probably my go-to recipe for nettles when I just want to eat some as a side dish. Most of the time we think of nettles we assume they need to be boiled, but it just isn’t the case. I reserve boiling/blanching more for ingredients where I may want to control or soften the flavor, things with strong tastes like dandelions or other strong tasting asters. Nettles have a soft, delicate flavor, and, without blanching, more of that will come through.
The deepest nettle flavor comes from wilting, not blanching
I use both wood nettles (Laportea canadensis) and common stinging nettles (Urtica dioica) interchangeably here, and both are great. The saline/oceanic quality of Urtica dioica really shines here though, and if you love that flavor like I do, It may be your new favorite way to cook them.
Butter Glazed Nettles
- 8 oz fresh tender stinging nettles or wood nettles in the summer, nettle tips can be gathered
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter or more
- Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
- Water or stock a small amount--just enough to wilt them
- Put 1/2 inch of water in a wide or deep pan that can fit the nettles.
- Pack the nettles in, cover the pot and turn the heat to high. When the pan is hot, take of the heat and stir the nettles around to help with them, then put the cover back on the pot and cook some more.
- Continue cooking, reducing the heat if the pan threatens to dry out, until the nettles are tender and taste good to you. When they're tender, drain off as much liquid as you can, then add the butter, salt and pepper to taste and continue cooking, stirring rapidly to distribute the seasonings.
- Taste the nettles again and adjust the seasoning for salt or more butter. When they're delicious, buttery and tender and most of the remaining liquid has cooked into the leaves, serve.