Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Nettle, Golden Beet & Smashed Garlic Foccacia

Last year I tried cooking with  stinging nettles for the first time. Despite the incredibly obvious name, I went ahead, bare-handed pulling the leaves off the stems. IMMEDIATELY I felt a thousand of the smallest stings deep in my skin. Frantic with pain, I washed my hands over and over thinking the pain would....wash off?? It didn't. Two or three days later, I no longer felt the pain but the memory of the sting will forever be in my brain.
"THIS YEAR WILL BE DIFFERENT", I proclaimed as I readied my hands with latex gloves. Fast forward to three minutes into handling the nettles and I felt it again. I was stung! Thankfully, just once, but I had to put on a second pair of gloves.
 Nettle-2 Carly-0.

If you don't know what nettles are, they are big green flowering plants with leaves that grow on stalks and are covered in tiny stingers. The flavor and cooking method is similar to spinach, feel free to substitute that in this recipe as well. The stinging sensation goes away once they are cooked, so don't eat these raw!

Nettle, Golden Beet & Smashed Garlic Foccacia
1 large golden beet, ends trimmed
1 medium red onion, ends trimmed
6 large garlic cloves, skin on
salt and pepper
4 tbl extra virgin olive oil, divided
4 cups stinging nettle leaves
1/4 cup vegan mozzarella, crumbled
1 rectangle pre-baked foccacia

Preheat the oven to 425.
Place the beet, red onion and garlic on a large piece of foil and drizzle with 2 tbl of olive oil. Sprinkle with salt. Wrap up in a pouch and roast for 35-40 minutes until the beet is fork tender and cooked through.
While the beets are cooking, bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the nettles and cook for 1 minutes. Drain and shock in ice water to stop the cooking. Drain and set aside.
Reduce the oven to 375.
Once the roasted vegetables are cool enough to touch, peel the beet and slice very thinly. Remove the skins from the garlic and roughly chop the red onion.
Smear the garlic on the top of the foccacia. Top with beets, onions, nettles and cheese crumbles. Drizzle with the remaining 2 tbl of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake for 10 minutes.

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