The stinging nettle harvests are always exciting around here. We love the greens cooked like spinach, layered in lasagna, made into a creamy soup and dried for tea. Every year I get a bug to come up with a new and exciting way to utilize these much loved greens, and I was really stoked to discover a pasta recipe that has a fresh stinging nettles as an ingredient.
I'm partial to egg noodles, and having an abundance of duck, chicken and quail eggs on hand every day of the year, I freely add them to all the pasta I make. The egg in this recipe is optional and omitting it is fine.
Fresh stinging nettles will sting bare hands, legs and arms, so be sure to suit up properly when harvesting them. Hot water coming in contact with the leaves and stems kills the sting, then they are easy to handle with your bare hands.
2 cups of all purpose flour 1 cup blanched stinging nettles 1 smallish duck, regular size chicken or 3-4 quail eggs - optional 1/4 - 1/2 tsp salt
You can blanch the nettles by dropping them in a pot of boiling water for 1-3 minutes, or you can simply put the fresh nettles in a colander and pour boiling water over them. If you blanch them in a pot of boiling water, put them in a bowl of ice water when they're ready to stop the cooking process, then drain them in a colander.
If there are thick stems, remove them and coarsely chop the nettles. Puree them with a little water in a blender so they're smooth.
By Hand: Mix the salt with the flour in a large bowl and make a well in the center. Add the puree and the egg if you're using one, then using your hands, incorporate them into the flour until you get a rough mass of dough. If the dough seems too stiff add a little water... if you've added an egg you won't need any water. When the dough has formed a rough ball shape, begin kneading, knead for 8-10 minutes.
By Stand Mixer: Mix the salt with the flour in the mixing bowl. Add the puree and the egg if you're using one. Using the paddle mix the dough on a low/medium setting until the dough comes together. If the dough seems too stiff add a little water... if you've added an egg you won't need any water. Replace the paddle with the dough hook and mix on low/medium setting for 3-4 minutes.
Coat the dough with a thin coating of olive oil, place it back in the bowl and cover it, letting it sit for an hour or so.
Take a quarter of the dough and roll it out in a pasta machine or by hand. I have an Atlas Pasta Machine I've been using for nearly 30 years and it's never let me down. Roll it out as thick or as thin as you like.
The Atlas Pasta machine comes with a cutter that'll make uniform spaghetti or fettuccine noodle. If you're not using the machine, cut the noodle by hand by lightly dusting the sheet with flour and rolling it up loosely, then using a sharp knife, make 1/8 - 1/4" wide slices across the length of the roll.
Lightly dust the freshly cut noodles with flour so they don't stick and let them rest on the counter, or hang them individually to dry. Once the dough has rested on the counter for 10 - 15 minutes, you can make nests with them to save space. Repeat the process with the rest of the dough.
Bring a pot of salty water to a boil, add the noodles and cook for 3-5 minutes. Fresh noodles cook fast.
For long term storage I find freezing works the best. I freeze the nests on a tray, then vacuum seal them for long term freezer storage. They cook best when placed in the boiling water frozen, not thawed.