By Teri Gelber

When spring in the Pacific Northwest rears its long-awaited head, I race to the fields and farmers’ markets for my favorite weed, stinging nettles. Beware, they really do sting, so when handling them remember to wear gloves. Once steamed or blanched, these wild stalks and leaves lose their stinging quality. I consider them medicinal superfood and stock up on as many as I can, cooking and then freezing them to carry me into the next season or two.

Besides a deep green soup, my favorite way to consume these earthy greens is in a simple-to-make frittata. Fresh organic eggs with dazzling orange yolks are key, and with a short list of other staples, you’re on your way to a quick meal that stores well a few days in the refrigerator. I love a little heavy cream, but it’s optional. The sweetness of the caramelized onion adds depth but if you want to skip that step pure nettles are perfect with a sprinkling of spring onions or scallions or green garlic. Play around and have fun with these fleeting spring greens. Use frozen spinach in a pinch but be sure to squeeze all of the water out of the leaves once they’re defrosted.



12-14 ounces fresh nettles or 1 pound fresh spinach leaves

5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced into half moons

8 eggs

1/2 cup heavy cream (optional)

1 teaspoon sea salt



  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Using gloves, rinse the nettles in a bowl of cold water. Drain briefly in a colander and snip off the thicker stems from the nettles.
  3. Place a steamer basket in a large pot and add water to just beneath the basket. Turn the heat to medium high and pile the nettles into the basket. Cover the pot and steam for 5-8 minutes, until stems are tender. Allow to cool.
  4. Meanwhile, caramelize the onions. In a large skillet over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the sliced onions and stir.
  5. Cook the onions about 20 minutes, until they are deep golden brown, stirring every few minutes to ensure they don’t stick or burn. You can add a little water to help them from sticking here and there, scraping the bottom of the pan. Do not try to rush this process. If you like, do this step ahead to save time and store in refrigerator up to 5 days.
  6. Squeeze out the excess water from the nettles.
  7. Place 2 tablespoons olive oil into a #8 cast iron skillet and turn heat to medium.
  8. Transfer the caramelized onions and the nettles to the warm skillet and stir for a few minutes to combine. Add 1/2 teaspoon of the salt.
  9. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, cream and remaining salt. Make sure the eggs are fully blended.
  10. Add the egg mixture to the onions and nettles. Do not stir.
  11. After a few minutes, the eggs will begin the set. At this point, using a rubber spatula, gently lift the egg away from the side of the pan. Drizzle the final tablespoon of olive oil around the edge of the frittata. Now is when you very gently stir to incorporate the nettles and onion evenly into the eggs and cook another minute.
  12. Transfer the skillet to the oven. After 3 minutes, turn the oven off. Leave the frittata inside the oven for 15 minutes. (If you want to add cheese, do this now. )
  13. Turn the broiler on to lightly brown the top, no more than 3 minutes.
  14. Remove from the oven and serve warm or room temperature.