Bistort (Polygonum bistorta) and stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica)

Botanists call it Polygonum bistorta or Pericaria bistorta, but is often called Bistort, though many names have been used in the past: Adderwort, Dragonwort, Osterick, Easter Ledges.

Young Bistort leaves are used cooked, as a substitute for spinach, and astringent properties are attributed to them. Their flavor is quite mild, almost neutral, I would say. In England it’s the principal ingredient of dock pudding or Easter-Ledge Pudding.

Nettle (Urtica dioica), on the contrary, has a distinct flavour similar to spinach and cucumber, and is rich in vitamins A and C, iron, potassium and calcium.

Polygonum bistorta & Urtica dioica
Polygonum bistorta & Urtica dioica

A delicious vegetarian appetizer

After the first grass hay cut, most of the wild edibles grow young and tender leaves again, and after a brief summer pause, I am ready for a new foraging trip! Today I stepped into a Bistort field and I am eager to try the Nettle panée I made in spring.

Here’s a vegetarian recipe with barley, bistort and nettle. It takes some time to shape the meatballs… be patient, it’s worth it!

Barley & Bistort balls in Nettle panée
Barley & Bistort balls in Nettle panée

Barley & Bistort balls in Nettle panée recipe

Ingredients:

  • 300 gr Pearl Barley
  • Bistort (Polygonum bistorta) young leaves (about half a carrier bag)
  • 1 Leek
  • 3 Eggs
  • Aromatic herbs, finely chopped (cow parsley, wild thyme, etc..)
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)

For the panée:

  • Nettle (Urtica dioica – dried leaves, finely ground)
  • 1 Egg
  • Flour
  • Vegetable Oil for frying

Directions:

Boil the pearl barley until tender (approx 40-50 min), drain and put a side to cool. Thinly slice leeks and sauté them in a large frying pan with a good drizzle of olive oil. Wash and blanch bistort leaves in boiling water for about 2-4 minutes and refresh in cold water (to keep the vibrant colour). Squeeze the water out and chop. Mix the leeks, barley, chopped greens and aromatic herbs together with 3 raw eggs. Season with salt and pepper, at your taste.

With wet hands roll the mixture into small balls and drop them in flour
With wet hands roll the mixture into small balls and drop them in flour

Now get ready for the panée (coating): 1 plate with flour, 1 plate with beaten eggs, 1 plate with nettle “flour”.

With wet hands roll the mixture into small balls (this can be tricky and requires a delicate touch). After rolling each ball, drop it onto the plate of flour and roll it gently so that it gets a light coating of flour.

Then roll it in the beaten egg and in the nettle flour
Then roll it in the beaten egg and in the nettle flour

Then roll it in the beaten egg and in the nettle flour and deep fry in vegetable oil for about 2 minutes. Once done, drain on a paper towel-lined plate to absorb the excess oil.

You can serve them warm or as a cold appetizer with any other wild edibles finger-foods.

Barley & Bistort balls in Nettle panée

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