Tasty Tuesday

Nettle Pappardelle

Rohan Anderson
Tuesday 4th September 2012
Today we are rather excited to commence our new FOOD COLUMN which will run every Tuesday afternoon at 2.00pm! For each Tuesday in September we will be joined by our dear pal Rohan Anderson of Whole Larder Love, sharing recipes from his brand new book, out Sept 26th! YUM. Hungry already! – LucY

Photos by Rohan Anderson / Whole Larder Love

I’m yet to meet a person that doesn’t like a simple pesto pasta. It’s such great comfort food, and even though the weather is teasing us with early spring, it’s totally okay to indulge in a pasta from time to time. So instead of just making a traditional pesto with basil, why not think more in line with what’s in season? For instance stinging nettle, which is now in full swing and tastes divine!

I’ve been picking wild stinging nettle for a few years now, and it’s worked its way into my seasonal food calendar for wild foods. I love being able to pack the Jeep with my gear and head out into the paddocks, forests and fields to find delicious ingredients that are free and wonderfully wild. I love that no chemicals are used on them, I love that it’s free and natural, and most of all I love that many of them are considered pests, but for me they sing loudly: ‘Eat me!’

Stinging nettle does sting, so when you pick it make sure you wear some gloves. I’ve tried to build up a resistance to it, but even these outdoorsy hands of mine still get stung. Luckily I’m not out to prove how tough a guy I am, and am very happy to wear gloves!

Photos by Rohan Anderson / Whole Larder Love

If you find a good picking spot, be it someone’s backyard, a field or on a farm, you’ll have it as a foregoing hot spot for years, as it comes back every spring with mega force. Before you pick and eat, make sure you ask the land owner and check that the patch hasn’t been sprayed with weed spray the day before.

This wild beauty tastes a good deal like spinach, and is favoured all over Europe for its culinary potential and its medicinal benefits. For me I’m interested in its potential to feed me and the  hungry kids. It can be used in any meal that you’d normally use blanched spinach, so think quiche, pie, soup, sauces, and in pasta and gnocchi. But my kids’ favourite is my nettle pesto. It’s a no brainer really and the beauty of it is that if you find a nice patch of stinging nettle in the wild you can pick to your heart’s content. Then come home and make a big batch of pesto that can be frozen in dinner serves, and defrosted for lazy week night meals.

Ingredients

500 g pappardelle
2 cups grated Reggiano parmigiano
1 cup blanched nettle
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup pine nuts
Marinated goats cheese (optional)
Salt

METHOD

Firstly you need to blanch the nettle for a minute in boiling water, as this removes the toxins that give you the sting. We wouldn’t want to serve it raw to the kids now would we…? Well, I guess that depends on how the day has panned out with them, so I’ll leave that up to you!

Photos by Rohan Anderson / Whole Larder Love

Once blanched allow the nettle to cool on a rack and then a handful at a time, squeeze the excess water out with your hands and set aside.

Grate good quality parmesan cheese, or pecorino, about two cups worth. In a mortar and pestle crush a few handfuls of pine nuts. You could use other nuts like cases, walnut, macadamia or even sunflower seeds. I tend to use what ever I have lying around, in this case I was feeling rich and used pine nuts. Don’t need to make a fine power here, just give them a bash and break them up a tad. You could use a food processor for the nuts, but I like to do things by hand, the old fashioned way.

Finely chop the squeezed nettle, I mean finely chop – take a bit of the day’s frustration out here. Slice and dice, chop and decimate.

Photos by Rohan Anderson / Whole Larder Love

When you’re feeling relieved pop the sliced nettle in a large mixing bowl, along with the grated cheese and the pine nuts, and mix well with a large spoon as you pour olive oil over to eventually form a basic paste. If you like it oily then add a bunch of oil here, if you like it a bit dry then don’t add so much. It’s your meal, so do what your senses tell you. Now is the time to season with some salt, I’d use a pinch or two then taste, and add more if required.

Cook the pappardelle al dente and drain. Return the pasta to the pot and spoon over as much of the pesto as you want. To feed four people I’d add a table spoon for each person.
Mix well with a large spoon and make sure all the pasta is coated with your delish pesto. Serve with a drizzle of the good stuff and a sneaky bit of goats cheese on top and a sprinkle of pine nuts, roasted or not. And there you have an easy Tuesday night’s dinner done.

This recipe features in Rohan’s new book Whole Larder Love, published in Australia by Penguin and available for pre-order now at Readings.

Photos by Rohan Anderson / Whole Larder Love

Rohan Anderson
Tuesday 4th September 2012

17 comments

  • Emiko 2 years ago

    Gorgeous! They using stinging nettle a lot in Tuscany, they say that it saved much of Italy in between the world wars when nothing much else was around. I’ve made tortellini out of them in nettle broth. Nature’s brilliant – just at the right time of year when you can find nettle, it’s also pretty handy as a natural antihistamine if you suffer from hay fever. A bowl of this pasta would be the perfect antidote!

  • Laura 2 years ago

    YAY!! Loving this new food column, although I’m not so sure about eating something that has ‘sting’ in it’s first name :)

  • Rachel 2 years ago

    Loved reading through this recipe, it was like reading a story that I didn’t want to end. Very much looking forward to Tuesday at 2pm next week, and trying this recipe too!

  • live to eat! 2 years ago

    well done Rohan! :)

  • Sue Birch 2 years ago

    I have a huge patch of stinging nettle in my garden in Castlemaine….have been wondering what to do with it so thanks so much for this great story.. I’ll definitely be checking out your column each Tuesday!

  • beci 2 years ago

    yes! more recipes! great!

  • MP 2 years ago

    brilliant to see a traditional spring herbal tonic used as a pesto – thrills the naturopath and the foodie in me!

  • julie @ tractorgirl 2 years ago

    I have seen lots of recipes for nettles in my various (& multitudinous) cooking books, but have never actually EVER got around to trying it. This post is the perfect catalyst on this perfect spring day! Thanks Rohan :)

  • Ellen 2 years ago

    Probably silly question, but do you use the leaves only or stems as well for the pesto? cheers

  • Ro 2 years ago

    @Ellen I like to pick mostly leaves only as the bigger stems tend to be quite woody even when blanched. Hope that helps.

  • Ro 2 years ago

    Thanks everyone for reading! I hope you all enjoy the pesto!

  • Kirsty // OTIS & OTTO 2 years ago

    Yummo! Looking forward to more recipe gold. Thanks Rohan!

  • Liz 2 years ago

    I made it tonight WOW……………………………..

  • ktrn 2 years ago

    I really should try this recipe because I have heaps of them in our garden, lol!

  • jas 2 years ago

    now I want to grab a pair of gloves and forage. love a good pesto!

  • The Life of Clare 2 years ago

    This looks so fantastic! I love the idea of foraging and finding your food! Thanks so much!

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