Earlier this week I headed over to one of the larger grocery/deli places in town (Stockan Herkku, for those of you playing in Helsinki). With no planned meals in mind, I went a little overboard in the fresh produce aisle and came away with a motley assortment of interesting things: a nice-sized rosemary plant to plonk on the balcony once we're past the frost scares for good, blue kongo potatoes, cinnamon basil (proved to be Quite Nice on top of some salmon), and yellow and candy-striped beets. (What can I say? We all go a little crazy sometimes.)
In the checkout line, I noticed the customer before me buying some nettle bread. It was too late to go back for some without causing severe irritation in my fellow shoppers, but it did remind me that our stamp-sized garden, besides patches of wood anemones and a few straggling tulips, also has some nettles pushing up amidst all the moss. Now, the Swedish food blogs I follow have been fairly bursting with wild greens lately (for whatever reason, this doesn't seem to be a Thing for Finnish foodies), and while botany is not my thing, I do feel confident in my ability to not poison myself with nettles.
Then, of course, I was completely stumped as to what to do with all these vegetables, until an Internet Friend, who shall go nameless, told me: Wilted Nettle Salad With Roasted Beets And Mint Vinaigrette. You should all have Internet Friends as great as mine, yeah? That is just sheer genius, right there. Unfortunately, I totally wimped out with the nettles at the last minute and mixed them with some ricotta instead. (In retrospect, I think they were better this way.) The presentation is totally stolen from Alanna's beet carpaccio, which I must try out sometime.
Now if I could figure out what to do with the blue potatoes. I understand they taste like... potatoes, which is bound to be something of a let-down, so it has to be good. I haven't made the microwave potato chips yet...
Roasted Beet Flowers with Nettles and Mint Vinaigrette
2 medium beets
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cups young nettle leaves
125 ml (or so) ricotta cheese
salt & pepper
1 bunch mint, finely chopped
2 tbsp cider vinegar
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp sugar
½ tsp fennel, ground
salt & pepper
The method for roasting the beets apes that of Alanna: wash the beets thoroughly, pat dry, then rub skins with some olive oil. Wrap tightly in foil and roast at 190°C (375°F) for about an hour. Let cool a bit, then rub between your hands to remove the skin. (It's pretty silly to keep the oven turned on for an hour for two beets, so I did a whole bunch at once. Look for more beety things later on in the week, I guess.) Slice thinly.
Wilt the nettles in a bit of simmering water, drain. Chop them finely and season with salt and pepper, then mix with the ricotta. (I should have squeezed the nettles to dry them out a bit more.)
Whisk together the ingredients for the vinaigrette. Arrange the beet slices prettily on plates, sprinkle with dressing (you'll probably have some over), and spoon the nettle mixture in the middle.