Tag Archives: Pasta

Wild Herb Pasta

If you enjoy making fresh pasta and would like to inject some herbal magic into your creations, this recipe may interest you. Fresh herb leaves are blended through the pasta as it is repeatedly rolled in a pasta machine.

I heard about incorporating basil in this way from a colleague, who’d been to an Italian cooking workshop. I’ve made pasta with nettle juice before but find that quite a slow process so I thought I’d try it this way but incorporating some unusual foraged and pot grown herbs.

This method is very easy, it just takes a little more time than regular pasta making. I’ve no idea if this is how the Italian workshop prescribed it but this way certainly works and produces very herby pasta!

If you don’t know how to make pasta I recommend Jamie Oliver’s method. It’s very simple and works for me everytime:

A. Basically fork 4 eggs into 400g of tipo00 flour.
B. Do what you can with the fork then knead it thoroughly with your hands.
C. Wrap in clingfilm, or similar and refrigerate for 2 hours or so.

Whilst it settles in the fridge, get foraging! I used garlic mustard, basil, ground elder and parsley when I took these photos. Use what you have available. Curley Parsley was a challenge to incorporate but it eventually broke down well and tasted great. The other herbs broke down very quickly. Obviously, use herbs which are safe for you and your guests. Basil for instance is often avoided by pregnant women. A small quantity is unlikely to harm but be aware that even seemingly innocuous culinary herbs, can be very potent.

Now, how to incorporate the herbs…

1. As you progressively roll your pasta dough in the usual way, through a pasta machine, or by hand with a rolling pin, simply lay a few herb leaves down the middle of the pasta sheet.

2. Fold over the two sides to cover the herbs.

3. Continue running the dough through the increasingly narrow pasta machine. Each run through, will break down the herbs. Eventually tiny fragments will be distributed throughout the entire pasta sheet – it’s quite extraordinary to watch it happen!

4. Keep going until the pasta dough is as thin a you like and cut or process it as you wish.

I always make heaps of pasta (6 eggs, 600g flour), we then eat a hearty pasta meal and freeze the rest in portion sized containers, when still fresh and just dry enough to handle.

Nettle Pasta – Strettine (Urtica dioica, NL: Brandnetel)

I love nettles and I love making fresh pasta. Here’s a little information about nettle and a great recipe which combines the two.

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
2 eggs
good pinch of salt
good pinch of black pepper

  1. 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.
  2. Seive the flour onto a pastry board or clean worktop.
  3. Mix the nettle puree, salt and black pepper into the flour.
  4. Form a well in the centre of the nettle-flour mix and break the eggs into this well.
  5. Use a fork to lightly break up the eggs in the well and use it to start working the nettle-flour into the eggs.
  6. Use your hands to work the rest of the nttle-flour in with the eggs.
  7. When all is basically combined, knead the dough with your hands to form a smooth pliable ball.
  8. Wrap with a clean cloth or clingfilm and place in refrigerator to rest, for about 30 minutes.
  9. 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.
  10. Pass the rolled sheet of pasta through the tagliatelle cutting blades.
  11. 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.
  12. Cook in salted boiling water for 2-4 minutes, until al dente.
  13. Strain and serve.

Pasta with Pumpkin, Sage, Saffron, St. Jacques Scallops and Crayfish.

This is a delicious recipe which uses sage and saffron to bring out the flavours of pumpkin and shellfish.  It has been sent to me by Elodie, from Amsterdam who I hope will be regularly contributing recipes.

Pasta with Pumpkin, Sage, Saffron, St. Jacques Scallops and Crayfish.

Serves 4

400 – 500g dried pasta shapes
1/4 small green or orange pumpkin (approximately 250g), seeded, peeled and diced
1 fish stock cube
1 medium onion
4 St. Jacques scallops (Coquilles), finely sliced or diced
10 – 12 Crayfish (Rivierkreeften)
Handful of frozen or fresh peas
1 garlic clove, peeled and sliced, chopped or mashed (depending upon strength preference)
5 sage leaves
2 saffron strands
1/2 cup almond flakes
Tablespoon cream / creme fraiche
Dash of Thai fish sauce (optional)

  1. Cook diced pumpkin in a little water until soft (approx. 5 minutes),  set aside.
  2. Make a cup of fish stock using the stock cube and boiling water, keep it ready.
  3. Cook your pasta of choice whilst preparing the sauce as follows.
  4. Dice onion and fry in a little olive oil until golden.
  5. Add saffron and garlic to the pan and cook gently.
  6. Add sage and peas.
  7. Add the crayfish and a little of the fish stock ( keep the rest so you can add more if required).
  8. Add a tiny dash of Thai fish sauce, if you happen to have it.
  9. In a separate pan fry the Coquilles St. Jacques in a little oil, until thoroughly cooked. Try a little piece to make sure the scallops are not under-cooked.
  10. In the same pan gently fry the almond flakes until light brown. Reserve the almonds separately.
  11. The minute your pasta is cooked and drained, stir the pumpkin, St. Jacques and cream into your sauce.
  12. Pour the sauce over the pasta and sprinkle with the almond flakes.
  13. Add salt and pepper to your own liking.

This is an excellent dish using the seasonal Pumpkin and Sage in a slightly different way!

Bon Appetite !