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