First Foods Are Ready! Spring Nettle Lasagna Recipe

By Niki Cleary, Tulalip News

On a recent hike my sweetie and I noticed a bright spot of color peeking out from behind the scrubby gray remnants of last year’s underbrush. Nettles, one of the first foods of spring, were perfect for picking. We also noticed a gigantic sign that indicated no harvesting local plants. But now we knew these tasty treats were growing, so we made plans for the next day.

The freezing morning made them a little hard to spot, but we quickly found a patch of nettles. A short half hour of harvesting netted us two grocery bags of the tasty greens. After finishing our hike, we settled down for a cup of fresh nettle tea and got to work on dinner, a spinoff of lasagna minus the noodles and tomatoes and featuring our freshly picked nettles.

You may be thinking, no noodles? No tomatoes? That’s not lasagna. Nailed it! However, it is a tasty and low carb lasagna-like dish. Instead of a traditional tomato sauce, roasted red peppers provided the base for a meaty red sauce and the lasagna noodles were swapped with thin slices of zucchini. If you can’t find nettles, or aren’t interested in risking stings, you can substitute spinach.

If you’ve ever shopped for groceries or cooked with me, you know I believe we vote with our dollars, so when I shop I prioritize local, seasonal, organic and grass fed. If I have to choose, I’ll buy grass fed and organic meat over organic produce. Every year the Environmental Working Group (EWG) produces the dirty dozen and clean 15 lists, which can also help you decide what to buy organic vs. conventionally grown. The dirty dozen are the most pesticide contaminated fruits and vegetables, the clean 15 are the least contaminated, you can find them on the EWG’s website,

Spring nettle lasagna


  • wilted nettles – two grocery bags, fresh
  • 6-8 medium zucchinis – salted and drained

Meat sauce

  • Olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 pound of grass fed (preferably organic), ground beef
  • 12 oz package mushrooms, chopped
  • 2, 16oz jars of roasted red peppers, blended until smooth
  • ½ cup fresh basil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • Salt/pepper to taste

Parsley cheese mixture

  • ½ cup chopped Parsley
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups Ricotta
  • 1 cup Parmesan


  • 2 cup Parmesan
  • 2 cups grated Mozzarella

Preheat oven to 350, and oil a 9 x 13” baking dish. Prepare Nettles and Zucchini, roasted red peppers and cheese mixture. Prep your nettles by removing the leaves and discarding the stems. Rinse thoroughly to remove dirt or contaminants. Place in a large pot of water, boil until wilted, drain and set aside. Slice zucchini into ¾ inch slices, salt to draw out the moisture and let drain in a colander. Blend roasted red peppers until smooth, using no more than 4 tsp of the reserved liquid (use water if additional liquid is needed) and set aside. Combine parsley, ricotta, and eggs in a small bowl, set aside.

Meat sauce: Coat bottom of pan with olive oil, bring to medium heat. Sauté onions and celery over medium heat until onions are translucent. Add garlic, ground beef and mushrooms. Cook until meat is brown and crumbly. Add blended roasted red pepper, basil, oregano and lemon juice. Salt and pepper to taste. Reduce to low heat and simmer for 15-30 minutes to reduce and thicken sauce.

Assemble: In a 9 x 13” baking dish, spoon enough of the meat sauce to cover the bottom of the dish. Layer zucchini slices to cover the dish, then 1/3 of remaining meat sauce, 1/3 of the parsley cheese mixture, and 1/3 of the nettles. Repeat until the ingredients have been used up. Top with parmesan and mozzarella. Bake for about an hour, or until dish is bubbling and cheese is browned. Let cool slightly before slicing.


Alaska From Scratch: Crusted salmon with a kick

Sugar-crusted salmon with avocado-peach salsaMAYA EVOY
Sugar-crusted salmon with avocado-peach salsa

By Maya Evoy

Alaska From Scratch July 4, 2014


There is nothing more seasonal in Alaska in July than a wild salmon caught directly from our local shores.

One evening last summer, after 13 hours on the water, a friend of ours came home with a marvelous salmon. Although it was late, it was still light out, and he and my husband made quick work of filleting while I pulled up a recipe. It wasn’t long before the fish was sizzling in a hot pan, filling the house with the aroma of spices and saltwater mingling together. There is truly nothing better.

That night, I coated the salmon with a homemade spice rub, based on a recipe I found on my talented friend Heidi Drygas’ local food blog, Chena Girl Cooks. Together, we ooh’ed and ahh’ed over the smokiness of the paprika and the cumin, the kick of the chili powder and dry mustard, the nice sweetness from the sugar and a surprising pinch of cinnamon. And can we just talk about that beautiful charred crust for a moment? You get a stunning caramelization when a hot pan swirled with oil meets a perfectly fresh fillet of salmon, patted dry (this is key) and rubbed generously. “I have to write about this,” I said aloud between bites, squeezing a wedge of lime over my fillet before diving back in. “We have to make this again.”

Two nights later, we indeed made it all over again, and this time I made a bright, summery avocado-peach salsa to go with it. When I don’t have peaches on hand, I’ve used mangoes in the salsa with equally terrific results. Since last summer, we have looked forward to eating this dish again, as soon as the first fresh salmon comes through the door and into my kitchen.

Sugar-crusted salmon with avocado-peach salsa

For the salsa:

  • 2 sweet but firm peaches, pitted and finely chopped (or mangoes)
  • 2 ripe avocados, finely chopped
  • 1 small red or orange bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup red onion, diced
  • 1-2 jalapenos (to taste), seeds removed and minced
  • 1/2 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • salt and pepper, to taste

For the salmon:

  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 11/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 11/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 4-6 wild-caught salmon fillets (about 4-6 ounces each), pin bones and skin removed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

In a bowl, gently stir together the peaches, avocados, bell peppers, onion, jalapeno, cilantro and lime. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

In a smaller bowl, stir together the sugar, chili powder, paprika, cumin, mustard, cinnamon, pepper and salt.

Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Pat the salmon fillets dry and liberally season the top of each fillet with the rub, patting it so it will adhere. Place the fillets, seasoned side down, into the hot pan. Cook about two minutes, until rub is fragrant and caramelized but not burnt. Flip each fillet and continue to cook on the other side 2-6 minutes more, being careful not to overcook (cooking time will depend on the thickness of your fillets and your preferred doneness. I like my wild salmon fillets medium in the center, so mine were ready after four minutes). Plate the salmon and top with the avocado peach salsa. Spice rub adapted from Chena Girl Cooks, originally adapted from Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute.

Maya Evoy lives in Nikiski and blogs about food at

A healthy frybread option

Staff enjoyed a morning treat of warm frybread.Photo by Brandy N. Monteuil
Staff enjoyed a morning treat of warm whole wheat frybread.
Photo by Brandi N. Monteuil

By Monica Brown, Tulalip News Writer

TULALIP, Wash.-There’s something about frybread, maybe it’s that you can smell it a mile away and that scent brings back so many memories. This recipe was received as a request to test and it was surprisingly good. Since it contains mostly whole wheat flour it offers more filling fiber, which also helps to lower the net carbs of this tasty snack. The recipe indicates that it will make eight small frybread but I was able to make just over ten.

Since it is important to having slightly fluffy frybread, be sure that your baking powder is fresh. Test it by placing a tsp. into a small cup of warm or hot water, if it bubbles up immediately then it is still fresh. If not you will either need to buy more or make your own by combining, 1 tsp baking soda, 2 tsps cream of tartar and 1 tsp of corn starch (optional). Baking soda can be tested for freshness in the same manner but by placing a tsp in a small amount of vinegar.

This recipe can be found at in the printed materials section. If you have a recipe that you would like to share please send it in to Recipe adapted from What’s cooking, Healthy in Warm Springs, Sara Lee Thomas, MS, RD and Edison Yazzie

Whole wheat Frybread


2 cups whole wheat flour

1 cup white flour

3 tablespoons powdered milk

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt (optional)

1 ½ cups warm water

Canola oil


Mix dry ingredients in a bowl and gradually add water to make dough. Knead the dough until it forms a ball and comes clean from the edge of bowl. Cover with a cloth and let sit for 30 minutes.

Pour about ¾ inch of canola oil into a deep frying pan and heat on medium. Test the temperature of the oil by putting a small pinch of dough into it. If the oil is ready, the will rise immediately to the top.

Divide the dough and knead into 8 round balls. Pat and stretch or roll dough out into flat circles until the dough is ¼ to ½ inch thick. With a fork, poke a few holes in the flattened circles of dough.

Carefully slide a flattened dough round into the hot oil to avoid splashes. Slightly lift frybread to check the bottom, when it is begins to brown turn it over. When both sides are done remove from oil, drain excess oil and place on baking sheet lined with paper towels.

Nutrition Information Makes 8 frybread

240 calories, 10g Total fat, 1g Saturated fat, 220-510mg Sodium, 35g Carbohydrate, 4g fiber, 6g Protein

whole wheat frybread with homemade jam.Photo by Brandi N. Montreuil
whole wheat frybread with homemade jam.
Photo by Brandi N. Montreuil

Indian Fry Bread Recipe

Indian-Fry-Bread-300x200Indian Fry Bread

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup warm water

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl. Add warm water in small amounts and knead dough until soft but not sticky. Adjust flour or water as needed. Cover bowl and let stand about 15 minutes.

Pull off large egg-sized balls of dough and roll out into fairly thin rounds. Fry rounds in hot oil until bubbles appear on the dough, turn over and fry on the other side until golden.

Serve hot. Try brushing on honey, or making into an Indian Taco.

Buttermilk Fry Bread

Substitute buttermilk for water. Follow the same recipe.