My garden has been kale-and-collard happy all winter long. Thanks to this constant green bounty in my backyard, I have become quite the kale chip aficionado. These days, I can harvest a bundle of fresh kale and bake up a batch in no time. I eat kale chips for dinner, afternoon snacks, take them on camping trips and pack them along when traveling. There’s just something so surprisingly satisfying about their salty crunch. Maybe it’s freedom from potato chip guilt (drooool) that makes them extra wonderful. Delicious and nutritious—what a miracle!
So, when my prickly patch of nettles (Urtica dioica) started to peek out from the garden a few weeks ago, inspiration struck … nettle chips!
Nettles seem to have this effect on me every year. Last spring, it was Nettle Garlic Buttermilk Biscuits. The summer before, it was Pickled Nettles. This year, it is most certainly Nettle Chips. With their unique umami tastiness and a wealth of potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, protein and plenty of other vitamins and minerals, nettles make the perfect springtime green, especially when marinated and dehydrated into a crunchy treat.
The stinging trichomes that make nettles famous will lose their biting ferocity as you glaze and dry the leaves. No need to worry about stung tongues! You will need a good pair of thick gloves and garden shears when harvesting, though. Look for the young tender tops in spring and early summer, before the plant goes to flower or seed. Snip the plant about 6 inches from the top and collect in a paper bag or basket. Any leftover leaves can be juiced, added to pizza, smoothies, curries, breads, scrambles or dried for tea, and the stems can be used to make rope. (Another fun nettle project I plan to tackle this year!)
Enjoy this super healthy and scrumptious recipe for making your own nettle chips at home. Feel free to experiment with different spice combinations, finely grated cheeses, oils or vinegars for a variety of flavors.
• 20 to 40 freshly harvested nettle leaves
• 2 1/2 teaspoons organic extra virgin olive oil
• 1 tablespoon organic rice wine vinegar
• 1 to 2 tablespoons organic shoyu, soy sauce, tamari or Braggs
• 1 to 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
• 2 to 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
• Fresh ground black pepper to taste
1. Wearing gloves, harvest your nettles, rinse with cool water, and dry. Separate the leaves by breaking the petiole (leaf stem) from the main stem.
2. Mix all of the glaze ingredients together in a bowl. Add the nettle leaves and gently toss until each leaf is well coated. You should be able to remove your gloves at this point.
3. On a parchment paper lined cookie sheet, unravel each delicate leaf. Place pan in a warm oven at 200 degrees and allow the leaves to slowly dehydrate.
4. After 15 to 20 minutes, peel each leaf off of the parchment paper and flip over so the other side can crisp in the oven. Check your nettles every 5 to 10 minutes until they lose sogginess and become nice and crunchy. Be careful not to let them char and turn dark brown or black. Total cooking time can vary between 30 and 45 minutes.
5. Once you reach the desired crispiness, remove and allow to cool. Store in an airtight glass container for up to a week or possibly longer, if they aren’t devoured by then!
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