Stinging nettles are famously difficult to deal with, we mean, they are named stinging nettles for a reason: those nettles don't just scratch, they truly sting. Some people have more of a reaction that others, but they'll leave a rash on pretty much any human skin they touch.
Luckily, they are easy to tame with a quick dip in boiling water, called blanching. To blanch stinging nettles, you can bring a large pot filled with about 2 quarts of water to a boil and add at least 1 tablespoon of salt that will help the nettles retain their crazily deep green color. Place the nettles to boil for a minute, then take them out and put them in a bowl of cold water. Dry them out and their stings are gone for good.
Methods to enjoy nettles:
1. Giving nettles a quick turn in a pan with a bit of oil and garlic isn't the most common way to eat these leaves, but it is delicious. They end up with an intensely nettle flavor with this preparation, so a little can go a long way. This is definitely a recipe for nettle lovers!
2. Stinging Nettle Pesto is a giant burst of spring flavor, and since you need to blanch nettles anyway, you end up with a pesto that stays bright green (the process of blanching both takes away the sting and sets the green color of the leaves). Toss it with pasta or bread it on toasted bread for an easy bruschetta appetizer. A great recipe for people new to nettles, since their intense earthy flavor is softened with garlic and oil and cheese.
3. A few nettles on rolled out pizza dough and a bit of mild and melting cheese makes for a wonderfully tasty, if slightly unconventional, pizza. The nettles add a great nutty flavor that goes particularly well with Pecorino cheese.If you make this for people unfamiliar with these greens, they may well ask why the spinach on this pizza tastes to good.
4. These stuffed pastas may take a bit of time to make, but stinging nettles make a very tasty filling for raviolis. All they need is a bit of melted butter and a generous grating of Parmesan when serving them. Much like with the pesto and the pizza, the additional flavors in these ravioli soften the intensity of nettles without overwhelming them. You can still taste the nettles, but in a most pleasing way.
5. Slurping stinging nettles soup is like eating a bowlful of springtime. So much just plain green flavor. It's a bowl of chlorophyll. It makes you feel like you are full of sunshine turned to green energy. Add a swirl of cream to highlight the nutty flavor in there too.
6. Stinging nettles, once blanched and squeezed dry, can be used in place of spinach in recipes in which the spinach is cooked. A few favorite examples include Spinach Lasagna and Spinach Rice Pilaf./AgroWeb.org