Gather spring wild nettles, using this book as a guide for identification:
Enjoy our Spring Wild Nettles Colcannon recipe below.
Nettles begin to emerge in late winter, and are a fantastically nutritious and abundant wild vegetable, with a delicious, rich flavor.
Harvest the top 5-6 inches of nettles in early- to mid-spring, before they begin to flower.
Nettle leaves (and the tender young stalks when newly emerging) can be coarsely chopped and sauteed or blanched and incorporated into many dishes: anything you can do with spinach you can do with nettles, and it’s fantastic as a pesto or in a cream of nettle soup.
This recipe is for Nettle Colcannon, an Irish mashed potato dish enjoyed in the spring.
1. Cover the potatoes in salted water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain the potatoes.
2. While potatoes are boiling, heat a skillet over medium heat. When hot, add the butter and, when the butter has melted, the chopped leeks. Cook gently over medium or medium-low heat, stirring regularly, until the leeks have softened and turned translucent. Do not allow them to burn.
3. Add the nettles to the skillet and sprinkle with salt. Continue to stir regularly, until the nettles have wilted and become soft. Add milk and cook until just warm. Remove from heat.
4. Pour the milk-nettle mixture over the potatoes and mash thoroughly. Salt to taste. Serve with butter.