Congratulations to last week’s tomato contest winner: Rachel S. from Tenafly, NJ!  Her recipe for tomato sauce got double thumbs up.  Check out the recipe below.  A HealthBarn USA magnet is on its way, Rachel!  Now onto this week’s contest…

Stinging nettles in our garden

We are very excited to hear what you at home think about this week’s very unusual ingredient: stinging nettle!  It’s growing like crazy here at the HealthBarn USA garden and we’re looking forward to getting some new recipe ideas.  Stinging nettle is a leafy green that may sound intimidating, but it is actually very easy to cook and tastes like a very herbal spinach.  This green gets its name from the sharp hairs on the stem and leaves of the plant that causes itchiness if they poke you, so when harvesting definitely wear garden gloves.  But nothing to fear—after a quick blanching in a pot of boiling water for 10 minutes, the nettles lose their sting, and the reward is a tasty, super nutritious vegetable rich in vitamins A and K and the minerals iron, potassium, manganese, and calcium.

Stinging nettles can be used to make pesto, soup, or even herbal tea.  They may be hard to find in your average grocery store, but we have spotted them at local farmers’ markets.  We’ve also got lots in the garden and bet that some of you do, too!

Share your favorite recipe with us by Thursday, September 13 and we will announce the winner on Monday, September 17, along with the following week’s ingredient.  We can’t wait to hear about your best healthy stinging nettle recipe!

All submissions should be sent to [email protected].  Please include your name, hometown, and a picture of your dish, if possible.  For more details on the contest and the types of recipes we’re looking for, check out our introductory post.

Rachel’s Tomato Sauce

Makes enough for 4 hearty servings of pasta


4 lbs tomatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 large shallots, finely chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup grated carrot
2 teaspoons dried basil (or 1/4 cup fresh chopped basil)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  In the meantime, prepare a large bowl of cold water.  When the water is boiling, add the tomatoes whole (you may need to do this in shifts), and remove them about 1 minute later.  Let the tomatoes cool in the cold water bath, about 2-3 minutes.
  2. Once cool enough to handle, peel the skin off the tomatoes.  Core them, then slice in half (or in quarters for larger tomatoes).  Many people like to remove the seeds at this point, as they can be bitter.  (This step is optional.)  If you choose to remove the seeds, scoop them out with your fingers over a strainer, making sure to capture the juices in a bowl.
  3. In a large, deep skillet, heat the oil over medium heat.  When hot, add the shallots and garlic, and sauté until the shallots are softened.  Add the tomatoes to the pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Cook for 5 minutes, then add the carrots, basil, oregano, and bay leaf.
  4. Let the sauce simmer, partially covered, for at least 30 minutes, and up to an hour.  Check on the sauce every 10 minutes or so to stir and break up the tomatoes with a spoon.  Taste as you go, and add more salt and pepper as needed.  Serve over fresh pasta.



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