It's all about food at the moment, isn't it?! Three weeks at home and we have been experimenting even more than ever with wild food - this time using nettles and cleavers aka goose grass or sticky weed to add to ciabatta. Both of these grow at the back of our flats so it's well worth making use of them.
Nettles are a very good food source - of course nobody wants to get stung so use gloves when picking them or cover your hands with your sleeves. Nettles are most commonly used in teas or soups and they contain vitamin A, various B vitamins, vitamin C, folic acid, iron and magnesium. Apparently they are a good wild food for reducing inflammation amongst other things.
Cleavers or goose grass are those tall weeds we used to throw at people's backs and they would stick to their clothes, hence the name sticky weed (or sticky willy). The whole plant is rich in vitamin C and the stems and leaves are all edible. We have boiled them with our veg until they are tender.
You will need:
600g strong bread flour
7g instant yeast
400ml lukewarm water
100ml olive oil
a handful of nettles
a handful of goose grass
Before we started the ciabatta - we dried and washed the cleavers then put them in our dehydrator and made them into a powder. The powder was whizzed up in a coffee grinder but could have been done in a pestle and mortar.
The nettles were washed and then part-boiled to get rid of the stings. These were then chopped into small pieces.
Add the flour, salt, yeast, sugar and dried cleavers powder to a bowl and mix it together.
Tip this onto a clean work surface. Make a well in the middle of the dried ingredients and add the lukewarm water - then add 3 tablespoons of the oil and begin kneading the to form a stretchy dough adding in your nettles as you do this. Do this for around 10 minutes.
Put the dough back into a bowl, cover it with a tea towel and leave it somewhere warm to prove. After an hour it should have doubled in size.
We then halved the dough into two flat loaves and put them on a baking tray and left it to prove for a bit longer (30 minutes).
Preheat your oven to 220 degrees.
Brush the ciabatta dough with some oil and sprinkle on some salt and a bit of dried rosemary if you want to.
Put them in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes (or until golden coloured) and then let them cool. When you tap them they should sound hollow.
This was a big hit. Both were demolished in one evening. We served it with chicken, roasted tomatoes and potatoes with the remainder of the nettles wilted like spinach and our dandelion fritters.