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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Mâncare de urzici (Romanian nettle stew)

When the young nettles arrive at the market in spring, this is the traditional dish Romanians cook to get the best out of their detoxifying properties. After blanching them in hot water for a few minutes, the nettles are creamed in a pan and served next to scrambled eggs. The combination between the delicate herbal taste of the nettles, enriched with garlic and cream, and the eggs is one of those pairings that seem meant to be (like tomatoes and mozzarella and so on).  
I tended to avoid both greens and cooked food while I was a child and a teen, but I would never say no to this whenever my mom made it. Maybe because it was only available for two or three weeks a year. Or maybe just because it's that good :).

Last year: Hemingway's Death in the Afternoon (cocktail).
Two years ago: Blueberry and carrot smoothie (raw vegan).
Three years ago: Coffee-marinated chickenFennel and walnut ricotta-filled muffinsThe Ratatouille from the movie Ratatouille and Tofu Parmigiana (Italian).

Ingredients (serves 2):

  • 300 g young nettles
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 100 g cream (15% fat)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 eggs, scrambled, to serve (one for each serving)

Bring a pot of water to a soft boil, then put the nettle leaves in it (discard any hard stalks you may find among them beforehand):

Let them boil for 2-3 minutes until wilted. Then drain them (you may keep the water in which they boiled and use it as the last rinsing water for your when you wash your hair, it's great as a tonic). Heat the olive oil in a pan and add the flour. Mix well:

Stir and cook the flour only for a minute or two until it becomes golden (but don't let it become brown!). Add the nettles and stir well:

Keep cooking them for 3 minutes until everything is coated and looks creamy. Add the sliced garlic:

Cook for 4-5 minutes more, covered, until the garlic is cooked too. Stir in the cream and remove from the heat. Divide the creamed nettles between serving plates. Scramble some eggs in the same pan fast and top each serving with one.  It's done, dig in! :) (And happy detox!)

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