Yep, stinging nettle pancakes are a variation on the traditional nokkesletut, a type of thin pancake made with nettles from Finland and other Nordic countries. Traditionally they're thin like crepes. Here I add a puree of nettles to the dough to make deep green pancakes.
Savory pancakes were a vegetarian standby at a couple different restaurants I worked at, and Chef Russell Klein of James Beard nominated Meritage in St. Paul ran a version of them on their menu that often stayed most of the year, changing up the flavors as the seasons progressed.
If you're serving for breakfast or brunch, hollandaise, or something like sausage gravy is fine. In the dish pictured, which is probably the easiest incarnation, an over easy egg provides a natural sauce, and pairs great with the venison bacon cooked with the dryad saddle or pheasant backs and chicken of the woods mushrooms.
Just like sweet pancakes are delicious soaked in maple syrup and melted butter, savory pancakes would love to have buttery mushroom sauce, braising liquid from meat or gravy, or any manner of juicy things that would pair good with leafy greens poured on them or in their general vicinity.
Stuffing the pancakes
To add some interest and extra juiciness to the nettle pancakes here I like to add nuggets of goat cheese to the center as they cook, so if you want, you could call them stuffed pancakes.
Nettle Pancakes Stuffed with Goat Cheese (Nokkosletut)
- 4 oz young nettle leaves and stems
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 1 egg
- 1 ¼ cups milk You can substitute ½ cup of sour cream for ½ cup of milk if you like.
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 cup all purpose wheat flour
- 4 large cloves garlic
- Fresh nutmeg a few scrapes
- 2 tablespoons melted butter
- Wearing gloves, pick the tops of young nettles in the spring and wash them.
- Oil the garlic, wrap in foil, and bake for 20 minutes at 350 or until just soft, then cool and remove from the skin.
- Mix the flour and baking powder. Prepare a pot for steaming. Steam the nettles until just wilted, about 2-3 minutes. You can also boil a pot of water and blanch the nettles for 1 minute, but the flavor won't be as strong.
- Remove the nettles to a cutting board, cool and squeeze out any excess water. Roughly chop the nettles.
- Put half of the nettles in a blender or food processor with the milk, egg, garlic cloves salt, butter, nutmeg and pepper, then puree until it makes a smooth batter. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and fold in the remaining nettles and flour.
- Heat a lightly greased frying pan on medium heat. Cook scant ¼ cups of the batter for pancakes, putting a small piece of fresh goat cheese in the middle of each one as they’ve begun to set.
- Serve with sautéed mushrooms, sausage gravy, eggs, or in place of a starch for lunch or dinner.
Serving as pictured
- I like to serve these with a fried egg and sauteed wild mushrooms.