Despite the chilly temperatures, March is upon us and spring is most definitely on its way. Young nettles are popping up amongst the snowdrops and the first little cleavers, sweet violets and wild garlics can be seen in our wakening countryside.
As the weather is cold, I am still enjoying some of the more warming foods of winter but this is now tempered with an urge for the fresh green foods of spring. Yesterday was bright but bitter, leading me to combine my inter-seasonal desires into this tasty dish which filled our bodies and our hearts with both the wintery sustenance and the spring-like vitality that we craved.
Nettle, Squash and Almond Curry:
1 tblsp coconut oil
1 large onion
6 cloves garlic
Inch long piece ginger
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 large butternut squash
1 colander fresh nettle tops
1 tin coconut milk
For the curry sauce:
1 cup blanched almonds and water for soaking
1 1/2 cups water
3 cardamom pods
Another inch chopped ginger
1 tsp turmeric powder
2 tsp garam masala
Salt and pepper to taste
First soak the blanched almonds for an hour before you begin to prepare the other ingredients.
Gently fry the cumin seeds in the coconut oil for a few minutes before adding the onion, garlic and ginger. When this has begun to soften add in the cubed butternut squash and the courgette. Leave cooking on a gentle heat whilst you blend the strained, soaked almonds with the cup and a half of water and the spices and seasoning until you have a thick fragrant paste. Add to the cooking vegetables with a tin of coconut milk and stir well. Leave to cook for about 20 mins or until the vegetables are soft adding a little hot water now and again to prevent the sauce from thickening too much. When just about done, add the washed nettle tops into the pan and allow to cook down for a few minutes.
We served ours with saffron and cardamom spiced brown rice.
if you prefer something lighter, you can find some of my recipes for nettle soup here.
I hope that, if you are here in the northern parts of the world, your spring is bringing you many blessings and that those elsewhere are also enjoying the delights of their season. Happy nettle picking!