In Season: Stinging Nettles

May 2 2012, 10:30 AM

On spring menus around town, you'll find the usual line-up of seasonal ingredients: fava beans, asparagus, ramps, peas. But in the last couple years another, more unusual, springtime ingredient has caught the attention of local chefs: stinging nettles.

Nettles are essentially a weed that, when touched with bare hands, can irritate the skin due to the plant's tiny, nearly invisible stinging hairs. But when cooked the sting disappears and the plant becomes a tasty, almost-spinach like addition that can be used in a number of creative ways. Currently, you can find nettles in the nettle-spinach soup at Potager, in the house-made ravioli at 1515 Restaurant (pictured) in the fresh nettle fettuccine at Salt The Bistro, and served alongside wild Alaskan halibut at the Flagstaff House.

Plus: In addition to the earthy flavor and deep green color, nettles are packed with iron, calcium, vitamins, and other properties that can be used (typically in tea form), to treat anemia, arthritis, and allergies.

Potager, 1109 Ogden St., 303-832-5788

1515 Restaurant, 1515 Market St., 303-571-0011

Salt the Bistro, 1047 Pearl St., Boulder, 303-444-7258

The Flagstaff House, 1138 Flagstaff Road, Boulder, 303-442-4640