About Time: You Ate all the NettlesBy Joanne Gould
If you go down to the woods today, you’ll find one of nature’s most bounteous Spring time offerings by the armful: stinging nettles. Foraging fans go wild for their spiky green leaves but if you’d rather leave the prickling to someone else, try these stand-out stinging nettle dishes before the season is out. Here’s 6 fantastic ways to eat nettles in London:
What: Stinging Nettle & Ricotta Ravioli
The Lowdown: The rustic foliage-filled conservatory at Paradise means you can almost believe you’re not in the city and recently this West London favourite has brought a bit more of the countryside in by hiring ex-Petersham Nurseries Head Chef Cat Ashton to work her magic. With an emphasis firmly on local British produce, the new Stinging Nettle & Ricotta Ravioli is a must-try. Cat says: “Stinging nettle is my favourite early spring ingredient. This dish balances the earthy taste of nettle with fresh creamy ricotta and a ravioli filling spiked with Amalfi lemon zest and parmesan, is our ode to spring starter.”
Where: Paradise by Way of Kensal Green, 19 Kilburn Lane, W10 4AE
What: New Season Tomato Salad, Nettle & Black Olive
The Lowdown: Marcus Wareing’s casual Covent Garden dining room means that now everyone can enjoy his superstar food at pocket pleasing prices. For nettle beginners, this well-curated seasonal salad starter is a good entry point to enjoy traditional Mediterranean ingredients setting off the zing of the nettle (sting-free!). Follow it up with the wild garlic gnocchi main for the full forager’s experience and it would be fairly sinful not to try one of their fantastic cocktails too – we recommend the vodka spiked orchard delight that is Down The Apples And Pears to close the deal.
Where: Tredwell’s, 4a Upper St Martin’s Lane, WC2H 9NY
What: Nettle Veloute, Jersey Royal Potatoes & Smoked Ricotta
The Lowdown: If you’re not too distracted by the stunning riverside views at Blueprint Café, you may gather that Head Chef Martyn Moody is quite the fan of nettles. His starter dish of rich velvety nettle veloute and Jersey Royal soup garnished with subtly smoked ricotta is a small clue, but you’ll also find the telltale springtime leaves garnishing the Blueprint’s various meat dishes, and even being swapped for spinach. He says, “Nettles have an amazing flavour and they are so seasonal at this time of year. They are a bit of a forgotten food but I like using it instead of many traditional greens as the flavour is so much better.” Quite.
Where: The Blueprint Café, The Design Museum, SE1 2YD
What: Dillisk Ravioli of Irish Smoked Salmon and St. Tola, Goats Cheese with Wild Nettle Pesto at Clodagh McKenna’s Exclusive Dining Experience Pop-up at Selfridges
The Lowdown: TV chef and food writer Clodagh McKenna is taking over The Corner Restaurant and Champagne Bar at Selfridges for a three day pop-up showcasing the best of organic, Irish food. As part of the four course menu, ‘Seaweed and Nettles’ will be served amongst potent whiskey cocktails and promises a winning combination of Irish smoked salmon filled homemade ravioli with tangy goats cheese atop vivid green fresh nettle pesto. We can’t wait.
Where: The Corner Restaurant & Champagne Bar on 2, Selfridges, 400 Oxford Street, W1A 1AB 18, 19 and 20 May
Photo taken from Clodagh’s Irish Kitchen, published by Kyle Books. Priced at £19.99. Photography by Tara Fisher.
What: White & Green Asparagus with Nettles, Tamari Soy & Smoked Cod’s Roe at Fifteen
The Lowdown: The team at Jamie Oliver’s legendary Fifteen have really gone to town with this celebration of the best of British. Fifteen is all about seasonal eating and this small plate of new home-grown asparagus alongside the humble stinging nettle is given star treatment with exotic umami flavours to really show our local heroes off to best effect. Smoked cod’s roe adds yet another dimension and is testament to the talents of the young chefs.
Where: Fifteen, 15 Westland Place, N1 7LP
What: House Made Tagliatelle with Spring Greens, Nettles & Haytor Cheese
The Lowdown: Glossy Fitzrovia newcomer Percy & Founders have got it bang on with this beautiful fresh tagliatelle dish. Created by Executive Chef Diego Cardoso (ex-Head Chef at Angela Hartnett’s Murano), the insistent green flavour of the nettles is tempered by sweetly nutty cheese and makes for a luxuriously rich plate of silky pasta. The fact it is packed with uber-healthy nettles and greens means you can tuck in to all that buttered and breadcrumbed pasta goodness completely guilt-free, ok?
Where: Percy & Founders, 1 Pearson Square, W1T 3BF