Cheddar-Nettle Scones

Stinging nettles are not something you want to brush up against while out on a hike, so why on earth would you cook or bake with them? Because, prepared correctly, they are absolutely delicious and packed with loads of nutrients. And when you realize that their sting is neutralized by the addition of heat and water, suddenly their culinary range is laid bare before you. And one of my absolute favorite ways to use them is in scones!

Of course, you might not have access to nettles and, in this recipe, you can substitute chopped spinach fairly easily. The flavor will not be the same, but it's a lovely scone nevertheless. Other substitutions/tweaks include: omitting or using a different type of pepper, using a different kind of cheese (although strongly flavored cheeses will give you the nicest result), and substituting regular milk with a tablespoon of lemon juice for the buttermilk. And feel free to roll up your sleeves and use your fingers to work in the butter - it just feels nice and is pretty fun!

I've been known to use these scones to make sandwiches, have them alongside eggs, and just slather them with soft butter. They are tender, tasty, and perfect for breakfast, brunch, sandwiches, and snacks! There's just no sting in that!

Cheddar-Nettle Scones

  • 3 c. loosely packed stinging nettles or 2 cups fresh spinach leaves
  • 2 c. flour
  • 1 T. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. baking soda
  • ⅛ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • ⅓ c. chilled salted butter, cut into ¼-inch cubes
  • ½ c. grated sharp cheddar cheese, plus more for top
  • 1 ¼ c. buttermilk

If you are using nettles, prepare them as follows: wearing latex or rubber gloves, remove the leaves from the stems. You should have about 2 cups of loosely packed leaves. Wash the leaves and drain.

In saucepan, over medium heat, add the leaves and a couple of tablespoons of water. Stir the leaves with a wooden spoon and cook until the leaves have fully wilted, about 2 minutes. Drain the nettle leaves and squeeze them to remove as much water as possible. Chop them into small pieces and set aside. Gloves are no longer required for handling them once they've been prepared this way.

Preheat the oven to 450°F.

Stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and cayenne pepper. Cut in the butter using a pastry blender or your hands until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the grated cheese. Add the chopped nettle leaves (or chopped fresh spinach leaves) to the flour and cheese mixture.

Make a well in the flour mixture. Add the buttermilk. Stir just until moistened. Separate the dough into 6-8 equally sized portions. Roll them gently into round shapes - they do not need to be perfect! Optional: sprinkle more cheese on top of each scone.

Bake the scones 12-15 minutes or until golden.

  • Yields: 6-8 servings
  • Preparation Time: 30 minutes

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