Let’s all just ignore the fact that it’s now the end of July. Instead of summer swelter, let’s take it back to budding trees. To baby birds chirping in their nests. To spring cardigans and lightweight sweaters. Let’s take it back to May, when stinging nettles were in season. Because that’s when I made these pies.
At the farmer’s market, there was this big sign, with big, bold, red letters. DANGER. STINGING NETTLES. DO NOT TOUCH. The woman at the farmstand told me to handle them them with gloves “because they really do sting, and they will hurt you.”
Earlier that week, the batteries on my keyboard at work kept dying. Always at the end of the day, always when everyone else had left the office, and always at that critical moment when I was about to finish some important deadline. I’d charge them overnight, but it didn’t matter. That Low Battery message just kept popping up.
I called our IT guy, who couldn’t figure out the problem. Then, he saw me picking white stuff off one of the batteries.
"What are you doing?" he asked.
"Picking this white stuff off of the batteries. It keeps getting on them. It’s on the charger too"
"You should stop doing that. And you should wash your hands."
"Because that white stuff is battery acid. Your batteries have become corrosive."
Did I mention that it was May? And that in May, my allergies are serious? And that I’d been rubbing my watery, itchy eyes like every five seconds since this keyboard incident first started?
Were a bunch of nettles really going to scare me? I’d just spent the week rubbing battery acid into my eyes.
I didn’t use gloves when handling the nettles, and I’m not going to lie. Those nettles stung. Consider yourself warned.
If you’re not feeling as brave, or if you can’t find nettles because they are no longer in season, any bitter green would do. I added a bunch of dandelion greens because I kind of liked the idea of pies with a filling made of weeds.
Ingredients (makes four small pies):
- one bunch of stinging nettles
- one bunch of dandelion greens
- 3 - 4 green onions
- 1 egg
- 1/4 pound of feta
- 1/4 cup of olive oil
- black pepper to taste
- phyllo dough (about four to six sheets)
Make the pies:
Chop the green onions and crumble the feta, and add them to a bowl along with the beaten egg. Remove the leaves from the nettles (carefully! use gloves!) and the dandelion greens.
Cook the greens in a pan over medium heat with the olive oil until wilted, about ten minutes. Set aside to cool.
Once the greens are cool enough to handle, wrap them in a towel and squeeze out as much liquid as you can. Chop them up and add them to the bowl along with the feta/egg/green onion mixture.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Pour the remaining olive oil into a small bowl.
Remove about eight sheets of phyllo dough from the package and cover with a damp towel.
Remove one sheet of phyllo dough and brush it with the olive oil. Place a second sheet of phyllo dough on top, and brush it with olive oil as well. Make sure to keep the dough that you aren’t using covered under the damp towel.
Place a quarter of the mixture on one corner of the dough. Fold the dough over to make a triangle, and then continue to repeat, turning the dough over each time, so that you maintain the triangular shape.
It may take awhile to get the hang of the folding technique. Don’t worry if you end up with an irregular rectangle or some other odd polygon.
Set the pie aside on a baking sheet, and brush the top with olive oil.
Repeat three more times, so that you have four pies in total.
Bake at 350 degrees for about forty five minutes. The pies should be flaky and golden brown. They freeze really well, so if you undercook them by a few minutes, they’ll be perfect when you reheat.