Long time, no see, eh? Sorry for that! Fifth year of medical school is proving to be the most difficult one and I’m studying for exam after exam with little time to spare for anything else. But thankfully, I did get my butt off the chair for a couple of hours today to take a much needed break from books and to have a nice walk in the forest. The weather in the Czech Republic is still quite chilly and humid, but you can definitely feel spring in the air already! The birds are chirping and fresh nettle is growing all over the forest so I decided to pick some and make a traditional Czech Nettle pie for Easter.
Nettle is widely known for it’s amazing array of health benefits when drunk as a tea but there are not so many recipes using nettle in food. Nettle is one of the most powerful iron sources in the vegetable kingdom and is amazing for people with anemia. It makes your hair and nails thicker, stronger and shinier, skin clearer and generally greatly detoxifies the body. Nature always gives us its gifts at the right times of the year, so fresh nettle leaves that start growing in spring can aid us very well in the detoxification of our body and supply us with vitamins and minerals that we are surely missing after a long, cold winter.
The custom is, that the Czech people make this pie with fresh herbs to celebrate the arrival of spring, using as many different green herbs as possible.
The traditional recipe calls for pieces of white bread to be dunked in an egg and milk mixture, mixed with the herbs and baked in an oven. But since I don’t eat gluten and my boyfriend is allergic to milk, I had to omit both the bread and the milk and come up with something instead.
I used grated potato as the main body of my pie and for the herbs I used fresh young nettle from the forest, wild green garlic, spring onions, dried marjoram and dried lovage. The combination of these herbs is what makes the traditional nádivka taste traditional and smell divine but feel free to omit or add any other herbs that you like such as spinach, oregano, thyme, etc.
One note on picking the nettle – use gloves otherwise it will sting you pretty badly! I didn’t use any and now I’m sporting purple reddish stings all over my right palm =/.
Let’s get into the baking now, shall we?
– 2 kgs starchy potatoes, peeled, washed and grated
-200 grams of fresh young nettle, washed and chopped (use gloves while chopping too)
– 4 spring onions, chopped
– 2 bunches of wild garlic
– 3 tbsp dried lovage
– 2 tbsp dried marjoram
– 1/4 tsp of nutmeg
– 2/3 cup of corn flour
– 2/3 cup of buckwheat flour (feel free to substitute with more corn flour but the corn flour is essential – it’s what will make the edges super crunchy)
– 2 tbsp of cold pressed sunflower oil
– salt and pepper
– Preheat your oven to 200 degrees Celcius.
– First, put the grated potatoes into a bowl and put about 1 tsp of salt over them. Leave the potatoes to sweat and release excess water for 5 minutes. Squeeze off the excess water. The starchier the potatoes, the less water they will release.
– To the potatoes add in the chopped nettle, spring onions and the wild garlic. Mix through. Add the lovage, the marjoram and the nutmeg.
– To the mixture, crack in 5 eggs and the 2 tablespoons of oil and mix through. Add in the salt and pepper and then start adding the flours until the dough reaches a medium thickness consistency (it shouldn’t be too runny but shouldn’t be hard like a pizza dough either… something in the middle).
– Line your baking pan with parchment paper and transfer your dough into the pan. The mixture should be about 5-6 cms from the bottom of the pan.
– Bake for an hour at 200 degrees Celcius until the top of the pie and the edges turn golden and form a crust.
– Take out of the oven, let it cool, slice and eat either warm or cold (both are great!).
Do you use stinging nettle in the kitchen?