After three years of trudging all over this farm searching for the elusive stinging nettle, I finally got stung. I was weeding the vegetable garden with bare hands, when suddenly my hands felt like they were on fire. The horse flies were particularly thick today, but I couldn’t find any bite welts on my hands. Suddenly, the pain in my hands turned to elation. I found stinging nettle. It’s been right in front of me all this time, growing beside the clumps of wild mint that sprout up throughout the garden. Normally, I wear gloves in the garden which is why I hadn’t been stung before. My hands are so gnarly this summer, I figured the gloves were useless.
As fixated as I am with cooking and eating wild things, it’s fascinating to me that someone thought it would be a good idea to cook up these vicious little suckers. They really do leave your hands in a terrible way if you touch them. However, once you blanch the leaves, they’re harmlessly delicious. Italians use stinging nettle in place of spinach in pasta, fillings and sauces. Once my hands settled down, I grabbed a pair of scissors and my gloves! and picked enough leaves to make my first batch of STINGING NETTLE PASTA.
STINGING NETTLE PASTA
- 1 1/2 cups Tipo 00 flour, I think you can easily substitute all purpose flour
- 1 large whole egg + 3 yolks
- 2 cups packed stinging nettle leaves
- Bring a medium pot of water to a rolling boil.
- While you wait for the water to boil, place a bowl of ice water beside your stove.
- When the water is boiling, drop in the stinging nettle leaves using tongs or rubber gloves.
- Boil the nettle for 1 minute then remove them to the ice bath.
- Once the nettle has been blanched you can handle them with bare hands, Gather the leaves into a ball and wring out as much water as possible.
- Place the squeezed out leaves on a chopping board. Using a sharp knife, give the leaves a few slices then place them in the bowl of your food processor.
- Add the whole egg and yolks and pulse several times to combine.
- Add the flour and whiz up until the pasta pulls away from the sides of the bowl. I always let it go a little longer to help with the kneading.
- Remove the stinging nettle pasta to a floured board and knead until smooth – 5 minutes should do it.
- Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 1 hour.
- Roll pasta out by hand or use an electric pasta laminator then cut into desired shape.
- Dust the strands with flour, swirl into a nest and place on a parchment lined baking sheet.
- If you’re planning on serving your pasta the same day you make it, place a tea towel over the pasta and refrigerate.
- You can freeze the pasta as well. Remember to cook from frozen.
THE LOVE: I prefer a more robust handmade pasta. If you’re using a hand crank pasta machine or a kitchen aid attachment, I roll the pasta to number 4.
My beautiful grandson after a bowl of watermelon. Happy summer days at the farm.
Thanks for reading.