A traditional salad of steamed nettles mixed with garlic-scented oil and curd cheese from the town of Denizli and the surrounding region of Turkey.
Course: Appetizer, Salad
Keyword: nettles, Ricotta
8ozfresh young nettles*
3large cloves garlic
½cuphigh quality ricotta cheese(Calabro brand is the best I've had. The texture is soft like chevre, not grainy like most others)
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
Pinchcrushed red pepper flakesoptional
3tablespoonsextra virgin olive oilplus more for serving
Fresh lemon wedges for servingoptional
Submerge the nettles in a sink of cold water, then allow to drain in a colander. Put a steamer basket in a tall pasta pot, and fill with water (roughly 2-3 cups) until it almost touches the bottom of the steamer basket.
Put the lid on the pot and heat on high until the water is boiling and the pot is ready, then add the nettles, handling them with tongs if you’re scared of their sting*, put the lid on the pot and set a timer for two minutes.
After three minutes, taste a nettle to make sure you like the texture (older nettles, or those with a higher proportion of stem may take longer, and preferences can vary).
Meanwhile, crush the garlic cloves with the back of a knife, then heat in a 10 inch saute pan or similar with the oil on medium for at least 10 minutes, swirling the pan occasionally until the garlic is toasty browned on all sides, but not burnt.
Remove the garlic and discard, thanking it for it’s service.
Add the nettles straight from the steaming pot to the oil. If the pan is very hot be careful so you don’t splash yourself. The nettles added en-masse here will cool the pan down very quickly, so don’t worry about violent splatters too much.
Stir the nettles to coat with the oil, seasoning with a pinch of salt and pepper and the pepper flakes, if using. Add the cheese and fold it in. You're not sautéing the nettles here-just combine them with the cheese and warm it up.
The cheese should not be aggressively mixed, part of the character of it (high quality ricotta especially) is the texture of the small curds.
Heat until the contents of the pan are just hot throughout, double check the seasoning for salt and pepper and adjust until it tastes good to you. Serve warm or room temperature.
Pass extra virgin olive oil and lemon wedges at the table, if using.
The size Fresh young nettles about 4 inches long are perfect here. If you're nettles are older consider roughly chopping them after steaming to make for easier eating. The sting The sting of Utrica dioica is not bad when they’re young but will increase with age, and some species (wood nettle / Laportea canadensis) have a much more intense sting that others.