When I first became interested in Turkish cuisine, it was all about kebabs, grilling, baklava and Turkish coffee. I always had the perception the cuisine was heavy and unhealthy.
I was surprised and delighted to learn about the abundance of vegetables, green leafies and even wild weeds that are present in Turkish cooking. One of my biggest surprises was the use of stinging nettle in Turkish regional cuisine.
Stinging nettle was a plant I learned to avoid the hard way after trekking one day in shorts and short socks. This prickly plant results in severe skin irritation if it's not handled properly. But when it's harvested, washed and prepared the right way, it makes a delicious ingredient for soups, stews, sautees and a great filling for layered pies.
All you need is a good, heavy pair of gardening or work gloves to wear as you pick and wash the nettle. The prickles disappear when it's washed and cooked. What you're left with is a tender, woody-tasting dark green vegetable much like spinach.
One of my favorite things to do with nettle is make delicious spring soup. Check out this article about stinging nettle in Turkish cuisine and get the recipe for a delicious, creamy soup to beat.
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