Curly ribbons of home made fresh nettle pasta

Hello! We’re almost in the middle of February and for those, who enjoy gardening, it is time to help nature, starting to prepare the soil for the new Spring dress. On the ground, in the garden, among sleeping plants and trees, it is pretty common to find some growing plants of nettle to uproot. The nettle is a wild stingy herb, well known since ancient times, for its peculiar texture, the production of natural fibre and healthy benefits. Often, it is also used in the kitchen for making home made pasta, which turns to be a delicate dish worth to try.

Portions provided here can be for a couple of people. First of all, wash the tender stingy leaves of nettle in cold water thoroughly (be careful, use gloves!). Secondly, cook the nettles into boiling water for few minutes. Add a sprinkle of salt in the end. Thirdly, strain from the water and work the nettles in a food processor to have a thick mixture. Fouthly, mix 160 gr of processed nettles with 70gr of organic wholemeal flour (I used local ground stoned Senatore Cappelli quality) and 80 gr of yellow semolina. Since the nettles have water in their own texture, it shouldn’t be necessary to add more water for the kneading process. No eggs are necessary, since, according to Apulia culinary traditions, we do not use eggs in home made pasta making. Besides, we like to have a very light pasta dish. Add little more flour, if necessary, for a well compact mixture. Fifthly, make sheets of pastry (help yourself with a nonna papera machine, positions n. 3 or 4 for thickness) and then long stripes of nettle pasta, which you will roll up around your finger for having curly ribbons like I did in the picture. Then, leave the nettle pasta to rest for 5/6 hours or for a night.

At lunch or dinner time, the curly ribbons will take only 2/3 minutes into boiling salt water to be cooked “al dente”. I served them warm with a fresh moist tomato sauce and a sprinkle of pecorino di Pienza cheese. Of course you may serve with a different sauce you prefer.

Wishing everybody to enjoy this delicate dish, which perhaps might be an inviting, very simple, romantic idea to prepare by yourself for your loved one on Valentine’s day.

Home made white lasagna for the Easter table

It is the beginning of the first week of Spring and, in the range of crops at the food store, we might find the asparagus that can be chosen as privileged ingredient of several dishes for the Easter table. During the last weekend, I made some different kind of fresh pasta at home. For the dough, according to the gastronomy tradition of my region, Apulia, I used simply good local flours (Senatore Cappelli and semola) and water. No eggs were necessary and, in this way, the dish could be a bit lighter. What is more, you can store the fresh pasta in the fridge for a couple of days. At this proper, for example, I use to alternate layers of lasagna on layers of fridge papers that are cut of similar sizes of lasagnas and store them accurately in the fridge.

As for the recipe about white lasagna dish, you need few simple steps for making it. 1. After removing the lower wooden ends of the asparagus (you need three or four per person), steam them for five minutes and then put them in a pan with a couple of spoons of extra virgin olive oil, a fragrant idea of garlic and cook them for few minutes more. 2. Make a smooth velvet Béchamel sauce. Melt some butter (I used about 30/40g), add a very small idea of garlic in the pan, if you like it. At this point, out of the small cooker, add slowly some all purpose flour (I used a couple of soup spoons) and mix it with the butter. Work it very well in order to dissolve each lump and have a smooth roux. Back on the small stove, add gently hot milk (250 or 300 ml) and keep on stirring and whipping until the white sauce is done. Add a sprinkle of salt, grated nutmeg and melt one or two generous handfuls of grated Rodez cheese (please, see the previous recipe – crêpes). 3. Cook lasagna pasta for about 5 minutes in salt boiling water. Then, strain and leave lasagna to dry on a clean towel on the table. Before starting with layers of lasagna, pour a couple of soup spoons of béchamel sauce on the surface of the cocottes and then alternate n. 4 layers of lasagna with béchamel sauce, asparagus and pieces of mozzarella cheese. 4. Place in the oven 180°C/200°C for about ten minutes (please, don’t leave it too long, in order to still have a moist surface) and then serve it very warm. I hope you enjoy the recipe and wish everybody ‘bon appétit‘.

Enjoy the music

An excellent dish: hand made pasta bows and broccoli on Mardi gras

Hello! For celebrating Mardi gras we are going to prepare an excellent dish that both children and older children, who enjoy to make pasta dough, would love to try. We need only few genuine ingredients, which, by the way, remind of traditional tastes of Apulia gastronomy.

As for the pasta dough, on this occasion, I mix semolina flour and a local ancient biological durum wheat flour with some water. No eggs are necessary. It takes only few minutes for a thick homogeneous mixture, which then will be worked (you may help yourself by using the nonna papera machine) for becoming very thin sheets of pastry. After that, make small rectangles of those sheets. Next step is to join both the longer sides of each rectangle right in the middle in order to have small bows. Let pasta bows dry accurately for some hours.

Once it is time to prepare the dish, dip small broccoli for a couple of minutes in hot boiling salt water. Strain broccoli (please, do not forget to save that water for later) and add them in a pan with hot extra virgin olive oil, an idea of golden garlic and hot pepper. Cook broccoli for about 5/7 minutes by adding some of that water you saved before. Add a sprinkle of sea salt and pepper if it is necessary. At this point, broccoli should be tender in order to make small pieces of them straight in the pan, by using a wooden spoon. Add some fresh grated ricotta sheep milk cheese on top of broccoli in the pan and let it melt for a couple of minutes.

In the end, cook hand made pasta bows for about 7/8 minutes in hot boiling salt water, strain and add them to broccoli for gently mix all together. Serve pasta bows and broccoli warm in a bowl with crisp golden breadcrumbs and a sprinkle of fresh ricotta sheep milk cheese on top. Enjoy the dish in good company of your family and friends and wish everybody a good Mardi gras. Bon Appétit! ❤

Home Made Fresh Pasta at Christmas Time

Here we are! It’s the second weekend of Advent and, in the kitchen, on Sunday morning, we enjoy making fresh pasta. Actually, serving ravioli to guests at our Christmas table can be an excellent idea but we are going to use alternative ingredients for the stuffing, such as sheep milk ricotta cheese (250gr), parmigiano reggiano (50gr) and a pear.

  • As first step we make a thin sheet of pastry. The manual pasta making machine (nonna papera) is the faster solution if you are in a hurry or you may use a rolling pin if you are familiar with it. The proportion of the ravioli mixture for a couple of people is 250g semolina, one egg, little oil, water. Of course, you can add ingredients according to the number of your guests. As soon as the mixture is done, leave it to rest for an hour.
  • In the meanwhile, cut a pear in very small cubes, add a yolk, ricotta, grated parmigiano cheese and mix the stuffing for ravioli pasta.
  • Then, make small discs of ravioli pasta, stuff them with a spoon of the cream made with pear, ricotta and parmigiano cheese, seal them hermetically.
  • Cook ravioli in boiling salted water for few minutes and, as soon as ravioli come up on the surface of the boiling water, it’s time to strain them.
  • Finally, serve them warm in a dish with melted butter, grated sheep milk cheese and papaver seeds on top.

Buon appetito and wishing everybody a good new week!

Savoy cabbage ravioli

Hello, for those, who enjoy cooking, it is always nice to dedicate some time of yours to  prepare genuine, home made dishes for family and friends. So, my small culinary tip for the week-end is a light ravioli recipe that perhaps your children would enjoy to help preparing as well. After making pasta sheets, by using only local organic flour and water, I chose my pasta fan shape and made medium-sized discs, which I filled with stewed savoy cabbage, excellent fragranced mortadella Bologna, raisins, pine seeds.

I cooked ravioli in salted boiling water and as soon as they tasted ‘al dente’, they were drained and served warm, topped with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of excellent pecorino cheese from Tuscany. An alternative to extravirgin olive oil, might be to melt a nut of fresh butter, according to your choice and taste.

The flavour is delicious and all I can add is to wish ‘buon appetito’ and enjoy the week-end to everybody!

nonna papera