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Mill City Cooks

Strettine: Fresh Pasta made with Nettles

from Nick Schneider

Serves up to 8

Ingredients:

  • 10 ounces all-purpose flour, 2 heaping cups
  • Pinch of salt
  • 4 ounces s nettles or spinach, a little less than a cup
  • 2 eggs

Directions:

Depending on how old your nettles are you will need two or three big tongs-full of fresh nettles to get your 4 ounces. Be careful when handling the nettles. Older nettles have more “sting” than younger and it may be that the younger, fresher nettles have little to no stinging effect.

Bring a large pot of water with 2 inches of water in the bottom to a boil. Remove the stems of the nettles first if you can. This makes the final product much easier to deal with.

Grab the nettles with tongs and put them into the boiling water. Stir around and steam-boil for 1-2 minutes with the lid on.

Fish them out with a skimmer or the tongs and immediately dump them into a big bowl with ice water in it. Once they are cool, put them in a colander to strain.

Get a cloth towel, like a tea towel, and put the nettles in it. Wrap one end of the towel one way, then the other end of the towel the other and squeeze out as much moisture as you can. This is an important step and worth the time.

Chop the nettles finely — don’t use a food processor or you will get a mush. The finer you chop, the smoother your pasta will be. Remove any stray stems.

In a bowl, mix the flour and the pinch of salt and whisk or sift to combine.

Make a well in the center and add the eggs and the nettles, then with a fork whisk the two together, gradually incorporating the flour until you get a shaggy mass.

Start folding the dough over itself until it comes together, then begin kneading. This is a medium strength dough, so you’ll need to knead for 5-8 minutes.

Cut off a piece of the dough and roll it out in a pasta machine. How thick? Your choice. But the traditional width is relatively thick, about a little less than 1/8 inch. This corresponds to No. 5 on my machine, which is an Atlas.

Once you have your sheet of pasta, you can cut it with the wide tines on your pasta cutter. That’s easy, but the real noodles are a little narrower.

To hand cut your noodles, make sure the sheet is supple and cool, not sticky. If it is, dust with a little flour and smooth it over the surface with your hand.

Loosely roll the dough sheet up so that the slices you are about to make form long pasta. Using a sharp (it must be sharp, or you will be in trouble!) chef’s knife, cleaver or other large blade, slice the loose roll at intervals somewhere between 1/8 and 1/4 inches.

Understand that nettles, like all green pastas made with fresh ingredients, will have some fibers running through the pasta. This will make the strands stick together. You’ll need to gently separate these by hand. Lay the pasta on the counter or board with some flour dusted on them.

Repeat with the rest of the dough and filling.

After every little batch, pick up the previous one that had been drying and give it a slight twist, making it into a loose nest. This makes for easier storage.

The strettine will sit like this for up to a day. Boil in salted water until they float, and then for another minute or two.

Serve at once.