Last month I wrote about the impending hungry gap when I posted a recipe for a tagine using the last of Winter’s root vegetables. We’re now well into April and the hungry gap is definitely upon us. The Winter crops have come to an end and there’s little in the way of new season produce to fill our bellies. But it’s not all doom and gloom, if you happen to be partial to a spot of foraging there is plenty to be had at this time of year and fresh young nettles are just perfect right now.
I’m no foraging expert (so you’ll have look elsewhere for comprehensive guidance) but with a little know how and a little common sense you can find yourself enough to rustle up something resembling a meal in no time.
I managed to find the perfect spot of nettles that had just started to come up in a park where a hollow had been left to go wild. Pinch off just the young tops of the nettles (whilst wearing gardening or rubber gloves obvs!) as these taste better and one the nettles flower and start to go to seed, the leaves can irritate the urinary tract and no-one wants that! I’ve also included wild garlic in this recipe as it’s abundant right now. I’ve been getting lots in my veg bag at the moment so didn’t forage for mine but it’s the perfect time to go and find some whilst you’re out looking for nettles, which lets face it, won’t take long.
I should also mention that I actually wanted to share this recipe with you last year. Unfortunately I hadn’t quite perfected my vegan crêpe recipe. I have since found that buckwheat flour creates the perfect crêpe batter so don’t try substituting it out for another flour because you’ll end up in a right old mess.
Nettle and wild garlic, buckwheat crêpes
For the crêpes:
50g Buckwheat flour
50g Brown rice flour
1/4 tsp salt
1tbsp ground flax seed
1/2 tsp lemon juice
4 tbsp rapeseed oil
400ml non-dairy milk
Coconut oil for frying
For the filling:
1 small onion
300g young nettles
2-3 wild garlic leaves
1/4 tsp fennel seeds
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tbsp lemon juice
Salt and pepper to season
- Begin by making the crêpe batter. Whisk the ground flax seed with the water and set aside for a few minutes until it become gloopy and gelatinous.
- Measure out the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and make a well in the middle.
- Pour in the lemon juice, oil, flax egg and a little of the milk and stir together. Slowly add in the remaining milk a bit at a time, incorporating more flour as you go.
- Set aside the mixture for 30 minutes whilst you prepare the filling.
- Wash the nettles thoroughly in bowl of cold water and pinch off any thick stems. Wearing rubber gloves of course.
- Wilt them together with the spinach in a large frying pan with a splash of water on a high heat for around 5 minutes until most of the water from them has evaporated.
- Set aside into a bowl. Add a little oil to the frying pan, lower the heat and fry the onion until soft and brown. Add the nettles and spinach back into the frying pan along with the nutmeg and the fennel seeds after being crushed slightly in a pestle and mortar.
- Roughly chop the wild garlic and stir in the mixture. Leave the mixture on a very low heat whilst you make the crêpes.
- Place a medium-sized frying pan on a high heat and add a little coconut.
- Pour in 1/4 cup of batter and quickly swirl around the pan.
- Leave for a minute of so until it starts to brown then using one of those super awesome pancake/ crêpe spatulas, loosen the crêpe from the pan and flip over. Leave the other side to brown lightly for another minute and place on a plate and keep warm.
- Repeat for the remaining crêpes, it should make roughly 6.
- Take the filling mixture of the heat and spoon onto the crepes and roll.
- Serve with a salad for a lunch or light dinner.