Nettles?! Yes, Nettles. These stinging blighters that we curse on countryside walks and endlessly weed out of our gardens are actually surprisingly nutritious, full of vitamins, and are a great substitute for spinach and other greens. I gathered bag-fulls last spring, washed and trimmed them, blanched them to remove their stings, then shaped them into little spinach-style nuggets to be frozen.
This easy curry recipe is inspired by saag paneer, an Indian dish made with spinach and fresh cheese, but instead uses tofu which happens to make it vegan. I’m not vegan, and in fact I’m a huge fan of paneer, but we often have tofu in the fridge so this is a great way to use it up. Plus a vegan day here and there is no bad thing if you ask me!
Of course if you don’t have nettles or you don’t want to use tofu, then you’re welcome to swap these ingredients with spinach and paneer. Ghee makes a yummy, richer alternative to the vegetable oil here too.
Serves 4 as a side or 2-3 as a main
- 500g Nettles (or equivalent frozen nettles, or fresh spinach)
- 300g Tofu
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 tsp garam masala
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- Small onion, roughly chopped
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 fresh green chilli (seeds removed)
- Thumb of ginger (about an inch)
- Wash the nettles carefully and blanche in boiling water for a minute or so to remove their stings and soften them. Wring out the leaves and set aside on some kitchen paper.
- Heat the oil in a pan over a medium-high heat. Add the tofu and dry spices and fry until the tofu is golden. Set the tofu aside, keeping the oil and juices in the pan and turn the heat down to medium.
- Whizz together the onion, garlic, chilli and ginger in a food processor until they form a paste. Heat the paste in the pan with the oil and spices until starting to caramelise.
- Add the tofu back to the pan with the nettles and stir together until hot and combined.
- Serve with rice, yoghurt, and flatbread like this Wild Garlic Paratha.