Stinging Nettles with Polenta

Final result: nettles with polenta.

Spring is here, and there’s no better time to go out in the woods, picking up nettles. Oh, yes, they are stingy little fellows, and your fingers with hurt for a few days, unless you use a glove, but if you believe what they say… being stung by nettels has some health benefits, especially if you suffer from rheumatism or arthritis, providing temporary relief from pain. My reasons for using nettles in my cooking are mainly related to my childhood – nettles with polenta were a common dish every Spring, and cooked because they are rich in vitamins A, C, iron, potassium, manganese, and calcium.

Picking up Stinging nettles

As you know, I have a passion for wonder foods, and nettles are as awe-worthy as spinach and other greens. In fact, because they have a flavour similar to spinach when cooked, nettles can be used as a spinach substitute in many dishes. But not many people are willing to go through the trouble to harvest them, and not many markets sell them. You will find them however in some high-end restaurants, and even on President Obama’s diet. Now that’s a recommendation!


a sink-full of nettles

Enough with the introductory note – I am sure you are already excited to “see the goods.” Scroll down to find the recipe card. Please note that I replaced some original ingredients from my grandma’s recipe to adapt the dish to a low-fat diet. Instead of butter I used a small drizzle of olive oil, and I eliminated milk and flour completely. Last, but not least, to give the dish a “kick” I seasoned with fresh home-grown herbs, like marjoram and basil.

garlic, herbs and extra virgin olive oil

Stinging Nettles with Polenta

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Serves 3-4
Prep time 10 minutes
Cook time 40 minutes
Total time
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50 minutes
Allergy Wheat
Dietary Vegan, Vegetarian
Meal type Main Dish
Misc Child Friendly, Serve Hot
Region European
By author Fusion Mom
The ideal spring recipe for vegans and vegetarians. Although the original recipe has butter and milk, you can easily replace the butter with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. No milk required.



  • 1kg stinging nettles (fresh)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic (finely minced)
  • 1 drizzle extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper (to taste)
  • marjoram and basil (finely chopped, to taste)


  • 1 cup maize flour (cornmeal)
  • 2 cups water
  • salt (to taste)


Step 1
Bring salted water to boil, and throw the nettles in. Let boil for about 10 minutes.
Step 2
Bring salted water to boil, reduce to a simmer and add cornmeal gradually, stirring constantly. Continue to stir until it thickens. It should come away from sides of the pan, and be able to support a spoon. This can take anywhere from 20 to 40 minutes.
Step 3
Remove the cooked nettles from the boiling water then put them into a blender. Add garlic and herbs, then season with salt and pepper to taste. Flash blend the mixture.
Step 4
Preheat a pan with a drizzle of olive oil. Add the nettle mixture and let cook, at medium heat, for 5 to 10 minutes.
Step 5
Serve hot, paired with a Chardonnay or a medium-dry rosé wine.


I have eliminated a few original ingredients, like butter, flour and milk, to adapt this recipe to a low-fat diet.


  1. […] in our region, and I took the opportunity to pick up some stinging nettles. My first recipe was nettles with polenta, an old traditional recipe in Romania. Yesterday evening, however, I decided to deviate from […]