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.
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 recipe
- 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
- Vegetable Oil for frying
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.
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 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.