This is a story of hate turning to love. As a boy I used to spend summer afternoons knocking down stinging nettles with a cane. Then I caught a cold and my mother made me nettle soup. I got better pretty quickly as I didn't like drinking it much. Now I love the taste. Blanch the chlorophyll-rich tips and they make a paste that's silky and faintly gelatinous. I use it as a sauce with fresh pasta and Pecorino cheese.
Nettles have wonderful healing properties. They're diuretic and cleanse your system. They actually heal the ground they grow on, absorbing the toxins – so you shouldn't pick them near a dump or in a graveyard.
I love how the humblest ingredients can be the most mesmerising. Nettles were even used to dye canvas for our camouflage tents in the Second World War. You've got to love them.
The Acorn House Cook Book (Hodder & Stoughton, £20) is published in May.Reuse content