Photo Credit: Emma Alter
My daughter and I headed off to the farmers' market the other day and came across a farmer selling stinging nettles, which I love. She said they had been forced to cut a huge amount this week, because they were almost ready to flower, so they were on special. My daughter, envisioning days and days of eating nettles urged me to resist, but I couldn't.
As it turned out, Emma was quite happy to have the nettles when I announced that I was making tortellini with them for dinner. As usual, I ended up changing the recipe a little bit. I missed the chevre cheese when I read through the ingredient list, so I ended up using some Parmesan cheese instead. I had some asparagus on hand, and I added it to the broth at the same time as the tortellini, and I thought it was a nice addition. I also left out the mint, because I find that it overpowers everything else.
Because I was cooking for just the two of us, I had some filling left over, which made a great nettle pesto. I had a bit left over and had it for lunch the next day. I was sure the tortellini would be soggy, but they weren't at all. If you don't have access to nettles, try using spinach, or swiss chard instead.
This recipe is from Food52.
Nettle Tortellini in Brodo
3 cups fresh nettle leaves (packed fairly tightly, some stems are OK)
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup pine nuts
2-4 garlic cloves
black pepper and salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 ounces crumbled chevre cheese
30-40 wonton wrappers
4 cups vegetable broth or water
fresh lemon juice
fresh mint leaves, shredded
good quality olive oil
1. Using gloves or tongs to place the nettles in a colander and rinse your nettles well in a colander. Look for any interlopers or stray weeds.
2. Bring about 3-4 quarts of water and salt to a boil. Using tongs, grab bunches of nettles and submerge them in the water. Allow to cook for about 1 minute. Remove nettles and reserve about 4 cups of the nettle cooking water.
3. Once they're cool enough to handle, squeeze out as much water as you can (you don't need gloves any more). Add the nettles, pine nuts, garlic, salt and pepper and olive oil to a food processor and process until fairly smooth. Remove to a bowl and stir in goat cheese until it's fully incorporated and you don't see any white streaks.
4. Set up a work space with your wonton wrappers, nettle filling and a bowl of water all near by. Take one wonton wrapper and drop a scant teaspoonful of the filling onto the center. Dip the tip of your finger in the water and brush it around the edge. Fold the wrapper in half, pressing the wrapper together and you now have a semi-circle. Press your finger into the middle of the bottom of the semi-circle and bring the two corners together, pressing firmly. Continue with the rest of the tortellini.
5. In a large pot (4+ quarts) bring to boil the reserved nettle water and vegetable broth (or water). Drop about half the tortellini in the water and cook at a low boil for about 5 minutes. You don't want them to get too crowded so you may have to work in smaller batches depending on how large your pot is. Remove tortellini and repeat with the remaining ones.
6. Serve the tortellini with about a cup of the broth, a squeeze of fresh lemon, a sprinkling of shredded fresh mint leaves and a drizzle of very good olive oil.