The green and mighty pea, eaten fresh from the pod is a glorious thing. We are all too used to chucking some frozen peas into a pan of boiling water and serving them up with just about anything. So lets really shine the spotlight on these little gems of deliciousness. These pea and nettle fritters make for a great brunch or equally could be served up for lunch. Piled on to a platter with a nice big salad and some soft boiled eggs maybe?
Nettles are an incredibly powerful wild herb containing many vitamins, minerals and essential amino acids. Keep your blanching water from the nettles for a quick and soul nourishing morning brew, if you don’t fancy that then allow the water to cool and use it to water your veg patch or herb garden. Make sure to wear gloves when picking the nettle tops and wash them thoroughly before cooking them.
To make life a tad easier if you’re away from home you could pre mix the gram flour, spices, salt, pepper and parmesan. Then all you have to do is add in the fresh ingredients and water when you’re ready for brunch. These nettle and pea fritters would make for a great lunch too, bulked out with some feta, crisp salad leaves and maybe a light yoghurt dressing.
225g gram flour
450g freshly podded peas
3 spring onions
2 big handfuls of nettle tops
1.5 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp onion seeds
3 sprigs fennel fronds, optional
½ fresh green chili
A few good gratings of parmesan
Salt and pepper
Pea shoots or fresh herbs to garnish
Sift the gram flour into a bowl.
Add in the cumin seeds, onion seeds, salt and pepper, stirring to combine.
Slowly whisk in the water, using enough to create a fairly stiff batter.
Bring a pan of salted water to the boil and plunge in your nettle tops, give them a quick stir and remove from the pan to a sieve allowing the water to drain.
(you can keep the water and drink as tea if you wish, it’s full of goodness)
Finely slice the spring onions, green chilli and fennel fronds. Add these ingredients to the batter along with the peas and blanched nettle tops. Finely grate in the parmesan and stir together.
Place a skillet over the coals of the fire and allow to warm.
Add the oil to the pan and fry tablespoons of the fritter mix, be careful not to overcrowd the pan. Cook for a couple of minutes on each side. Remove the fritters from the pan and place onto a tray, cover with foil and leave near the fire to stay warm.
Serve a jumble of fritters on a plate topped with a scattering of pea shoots as a final flourish.
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Before you set off there are a few foraging guidelines to keep in mind to avoid any injury to yourself or the natural habitats you encounter.
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Always forage small amounts for personal use, leaving adequate produce for animals and insects to indulge on, as well as other foragers!
IF IN DOUBT, LEAVE IT OUT.
Only eat something if you are 100% sure of its identification, as some plants can make you unwell, or worse still – some are even deadly. Books are very helpful for this; one of our favourites is ‘Wild Flowers of Britain and Ireland‘, ‘Food for Free‘ and ‘The Forager’s Handbook‘. Websites and social media groups can also be helpful, but make sure you trust the source entirely before you eat your finds
PICK FROM PLENTIFUL PLANTS
Only forage from plants that have produced plenty of fruit as the plant depends on this to reproduce.
WATCH YOUR STEP
Choose carefully how you access your foraging finds. Avoid crushing plants and habitats underfoot whilst hunting for wild foods.
LEAVE ROOM FOR RE-GROWTH
Avoid taking too much twig and never uproot a plant so that it is always able to regrow after you have foraged from it.
Your foraging kit should include – a small legal carry knife or secateurs, gloves to protect your hands from plants that may sting (the humble nettle) and thorns, and a basket/container or three. Don’t forget to wear long trousers and long-sleeved tops to protect your arms and legs from natural nasties such as ticks (find out more about ticks here.)
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