This dish may sound adventuresome, but nettles are quite mild in flavor. Wear gloves when handling fresh nettles; blanching the leaves will blunt their sting.


1-2 cups of leaves from the tender tips of nettles (washed and loosely packed)
1 tbsp salted butter
1 tsp minced shallots
1 tsp crème fraîche
1 tsp salt
1 tsp white vinegar
1 egg
1 slice of toasted white or wheat bread
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

(1) Bring about 6 cups of water to a boil in a deep pot. Wearing gloves, add the nettles and blanch for 1 minute. Drain nettles thoroughly, then coarsely chop and set aside.
(2) In a medium sauté pan, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Sweat the shallots in the butter for 1-2 minutes. Add chopped nettles and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn heat to low, then stir in the crème fraîche. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and turn off the heat.
(3) Bring an inch of water to a boil in a deep, small skillet. Add the 1 tsp salt and the vinegar, then lower heat so water is barely bubbling. Break the egg into a cup or shallow bowl, then gently slip egg into water. Cover the skillet. Cook 3-4 minutes or until the egg white is set and a thin film has formed over the yolk. Remove with a slotted spoon.
(4) Place the nettle mixture onto toasted bread, and then place the poached egg on top. Season with freshly ground pepper. Serves 1.

This article appeared in the May 2006 issue of Portland Monthly Magazine.