It’s hard to be a big fan of nettles; if they’re not taking over your garden, they’re stinging your ankles. But there’s no denying that they’re good for you, packed as they are with vitamins and minerals. In fact, if you believe the herbalists, the nasty nettle can do everything from purify the blood to cure arthritis, increase a nursing mother’s supply of milk and prevent dental plaque. And they’re undeniably trendy these days, packing out the Sunday supplements with recipes for soup, flans and pasta.
My only experience with nettles previously had been of the ankle-stinging variety but I kept reading about how the sweetness of the nettle goes perfectly with blue cheese and so the evil-looking green patches at the edge of my local common seemed an opportunity too good to miss. Spring is the best time to pick nettles when the leaves are young and tender but provided you only go for the young plants, you can gather them at any time of year. Oh – and unless you are an idiot like me, take scissors and gloves on your foraging trip.
These drop scones are quick and easy to make and the blue cheese does go well with the nettles. What with it being my first nettle experiment, I was a bit stingy with the quantity of nettle tops (stingy – geddit?!) and the result was a slightly herbaceous taste behind the hit of the blue cheese. Die-hard nettle fans might want to increase the quantity in the recipe. The scones would also work well with a different cheese or herbs such as chives or thyme.
255g plain flour
2 ½ tsp baking powder
¾ tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
150g blue cheese (I used a mixture of Dolcelatte and Stilton)
Big handful of nettle tops
Heat the oven to 220˚C / 200˚C fan-assisted / Gas Mark 7.
Wash the nettle tops thoroughly and then plunge them into boiling paper for a couple of minutes. This will neutralise the stings and, if you live anywhere similar to me, make sure that the last trace of dog wee has been eradicated. Chop finely.
Mix together the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, sugar and salt. Rub in the butter with your fingers until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
Chop the cheese into small pieces and mix into the flour mixture with the chopped nettles. Add a good grating of black pepper and stir in.
Stir in the buttermilk to produce a slightly sticky dough. Line a baking tray with parchment paper and use a dessert spoon to drop dollops of the dough onto the paper.
Bake for about 16-18 minutes until golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool. Best served on the same day.
Because I foraged my nettles, I am entering this recipe in the Nature’s Lunchbox Challenge, hosted by Foodie Laura.