Nettle paneer with peas, from Cate Sandilands
This recipe is adapted from Madhur Jaffrey’s classic saag paneer recipe in World Vegetarian (2002). I added the non-traditional peas for colour and texture; I also adjusted the spices to suit nettles.
For the paneer
2 litres whole milk
3-5 tbsp white vinegar
1 tsp toasted cumin, ground
For the nettle paneer
2 lbs nettle tops, soaked in cold water and drained
1 fresh green Indian or Thai chile, chopped (leave seeds in)
2 tsp fine cornmeal
3 tbsp canola or grapeseed oil
½ c finely chopped onion
2 inch x 1 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
1 ½ c finely chopped ripe tomatoes
1 ½ to 2 tsp salt
2 to 3 tsp ground, toasted cumin
¼ tsp cayenne
½ tsp cinnamon
2 c sweet peas, fresh or defrosted
1 small patty paneer, as above, cut into small cubes or coarsely crumbled
For the paneer
Put the milk in a large, heavy saucepan and set over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, place a colander in the sink and line it with a clean dishtowel or three to four layers of cheesecloth.
When the milk begins to boil, turn the heat down to low. Quickly add 3 tbsp of the vinegar and stir. The mixture should curdle at this point, the whey completely separating from the curds. If this does not happen, add 1 remaining tbsp of vinegar and repeat the process (and once more again, if needed: make sure the curds are really separated from the whey).
Empty the mixture into the lined colander. Add 1 tsp ground, toasted cumin seed to the curds and mix well into the mixture.
Let the seasoned cheese sit in the colander for 10 minutes. Gather the ends of the cheesecloth/towel and twist to squeeze out as much water as possible. Wrap the remaining curds tightly, tying off the ends (make sure the curds cohere as much as possible). Lay the cloth and contents on a flat board set in the sink. Flatten the bundle into a patty shape. Put another board on top of the patty. Now put a 5+ lb weight on the patty and press for 5 minutes. The cheese is now ready: it is best used asap (although it will keep in the fridge for a few hours). Cut into small cubes or crumble into large chunks. Set aside.
For the nettle paneer
Bring ¼ c water to boil in a large pan. Put in the washed nettle and green chile. Turn heat to medium-low; cover the pan and cook gently for 20 minutes. Mash the nettle with a potato masher until you have a coarse puree. Blend in the cornmeal and cook gently for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
In a separate frying pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. When hot, add the onion and stir and fry until it just starts to brown. Add the ginger and stir, then add the tomatoes and cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, until the texture thickens. Stir the tomato mixture into the nettle mixture, then add the salt, toasted cumin, cayenne, and cinnamon, and stir to mix (taste to confirm salt and spices and add more if desired). Cook gently for 5 minutes. Add the peas and cook for 1 minute.
Add the cubed/crumbled paneer and stir, very gently, to heat. Serve /asap, with basmati rice or naan. Goes especially well with a simple dal and cucumber raita.
Nettle Cheesecake, from Sophia Kontou and Rowan Oakley
The base was blended/crushed almonds, coconut, & pumpkin seeds as well as a gluten free pie crust mix, chopped dates, coconut oil and some honey.
Savoury Nettle, Mushroom and Cheese Crepes, from Dorothy Beauchamp
14 (6 inch) pre-made or homemade crepes
3 T olive oil
1 1/4 lbs mushrooms, rinsed, trimmed and thinly sliced (about 8 cups)
(I used brown and white mushrooms, any combination can be used)
1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 T fresh thyme leaves or 1 tsp. dried.
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
10 ounces fresh nettles, washed, stemmed and coarsely chopped.
5 ounces freshly shredded Parmesan cheese
2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
Thinly sliced green onions, chopped parsley for garnish
- Make crepes if using homemade and set aside.
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- Heat oil in large skillet until hot enough to sizzle a piece of mushroom. Add the mushrooms all at once and cook, stirring, over medium-high heat until they begin to brown, about 10 minutes.
- Stir in the parsley, thyme, garlic, salt and pepper Cook for one minute.
- Reduce heat to medium and stir in the nettles. Cover and cook until just wilted, about 2 minutes.
- Uncover and add the Parmesan cheese, stirring until melted.
- Spoon mixture down the centre of each crepe. Roll up crepes and arrange side by side in a 13×9 baking dish. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle with thinly sliced green onions and chopped parsley.
- Cover pan with foil and heat until cheese melts, about 15 minutes.
- Serve warm.