It is best to make use of stinging nettles (Urtica dioica) when they are young (in late March and early April – before they start to flower). I prefer to use them in strong overnight infusions, as a leafy veg in cooking and as a hair rinse. The resilient perennial Urtica dioica is sure to be found fresh somewhere near you and dried nettle is quite easy to find from herbal suppliers. It grows well in nitrogen rich soil, is present above ground almost year round but to avoid woodiness only harvest until it comes into flower.
This herb is packed with vitamins and minerals, is extremely nourishing and energises the body and mind. Taken regularly it can build strength in many ways. I’ll post lots more about nettle in future but for now here’s a link to an informative post by Susun Weed about nettle and how to make effective, strong nettle infusions from dried herb. There are a many recipes available which include nettle, in my experience many are quite bland. However many traditional Italian recipes feature nettle and taste very good. Here is a simple, tastey combination of pasta and nettle. Stinging nettle tops are ripe for the picking at the moment, so it’s a great time to try this recipe.
Strettine – Nettle Pasta
120ml nettle purée
360g Italian tipo 00 flour
good pinch of salt
good pinch of black pepper
- Make nettle purée as follows: Harvest about 200g of healthy nettle tops, clean them before adding to a pan of boiling water. Boil rapidly for 2 minutes. Strain and place the wet, cooked nettles into a clean muslin, jelly bag or tea towel. Wring out until the nettles become quite dry. Blend the nettle in a food processor until smooth. You need about 120ml of nettle puree for this pasta, freeze the remainder for later use.
- Seive the flour onto a pastry board or clean worktop.
- Mix the nettle puree, salt and black pepper into the flour.
- Form a well in the centre of the nettle-flour mix and break the eggs into this well.
- Use a fork to lightly break up the eggs in the well and use it to start working the nettle-flour into the eggs.
- Use your hands to work the rest of the nttle-flour in with the eggs.
- When all is basically combined, knead the dough with your hands to form a smooth pliable ball.
- Wrap with a clean cloth or clingfilm and place in refrigerator to rest, for about 30 minutes.
- Now the pasta dough is ready to roll and cut. Divide the dough into three roughly equal pieces and pass through the rollers of a lightly-floured pasta machine. Work through the machine several times until until you have obtained a smooth and elastic sheet, at least through roller setting number 3.
- Pass the rolled sheet of pasta through the tagliatelle cutting blades.
- Dry the taglietelle a little by spreading it out on a clean cloth or a pasta drying stand. Allow to dry at room temperature for about 15 minutes.
- Cook in salted boiling water for 2-4 minutes, until al dente.
- Strain and serve.