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 ravioli and the vegetable garden in the wintertime

   It is the third Advent week, and it is less than ten days for Christmas day. Outside, in the garden, the air is crisp and invites to have a cup of warm coffe in your hands. Three small candles brings light into the darkness of the early morning. Soon, the sunrise will fill the sky with its golden pink brightness. Winter season is just behind the corner and, according to the good agricultural practice, fruit trees need to be pruned in order to be prepared for the new Springtime. Since every season has its own crops, now it is time for beautiful plants of cardoon in our vegetable garden, they are ideals for warm tasteful soups and, at this proper, in Apulia, Southern Italy, it is common to cook cardoons in many different ways. The recipe, I am going to make today, combines, calling to a culinary harmony, savours and food products of the Northern regions with those coming from the South. Step by step, we are going to build the dish, by adding the ingredients it needs.

   First of all, let’s work a mixture made of good ecological flour and water and make sheets of pasta for ravioli. I have used 200/ 250 gr of Senatore Cappelli flour and about a glass of water. You can help yourself by using a manual Nonna Papera machine for home-made fresh pasta at first, then choose to use a fan-shaped mould for ravioli or simply use a glass to make discs and, in the end, once the filling is in the center of the disc, press the tips of a fork to seal along the border of ravioli. 

DSC_2932 sfoglia

As for the filling, make a mixture made with mashed local potatoes (at this proper, I steamed  Sieglinde potatoes, a variety that is firm on cooking and has high nutritional values), add a sprinkle of salt and pepper, chopped onion lightly fried into extravirgin olive oil, a couple of soup spoons of grated local ‘pecorino’ (sheep milk) cheese, small cubes of Speck from Alto Adige and raclette cheese, rosemary. Fill the center of the raviolo disc and close it in the way suggested above.

DSC_2940 ravioli

   The third step is to prepare the cardoon cream. Sauté the cardoons and some cherry tomatoes in extra virgin olive oil and then add vegetable bouillon. Keep on cooking the cardoons until they are tender and then make a cream with them, by adding a couple of spoons of crème fraîche and tasteful pecorino cheese.

   Cook ravioli in salted boiling water, strain and serve them very warm on a plate with the smooth cardoon cream. Decor the dish with some fresh rosemary and ‘buon appetito’, bon appétit, smaklig måltid!

Wishing everybody a good third Advent week