My refrigerator is retarded. Items left on the top shelf spoil because it’s not cool enough up there. Things on either of the bottom two shelves, especially towards the back tend to freeze. I’ve always thought of this as a curse (have you ever seen frozen tofu?), but today it actually ended up working out.
I was digging through the back of the fridge looking for some inspiration and I found a ziplock back with a small fistful of boiled stinging nettles. Those of you that remember my foraging expedition might remember the stinging nettles I picked (and never cooked with). Though it’s been almost a month, the little baggie of boiled nettles made it to the back of the fridge where it froze solid allowing me to resurrect it in this pasta today:-)
Honestly the nettles didn’t really add much flavor to the pasta, but it does make it a nice green color. This was my first time using my newest Kitchen Aid attachment (pasta roller) so the pasta didn’t exactly turn out gorgeous, but I’d have to say this was far better (and easier) than the hand crank contraptions I’ve used in the past. The burly motor in the Kitchen Aid makes short work of the rolling process, and because you don’t have to turn a crank, you have both hands free to feed and catch the pasta on the other end.
Finished nettle pasta ready to hit the pot.
I really like to keep pastas very simple highlighting just one or two of the ingredients. In this case I wanted the pasta and fava beans to be the stars since they both take a fare amount of work to prepare. The Pecorino Grand Cru, an aged sheepsmilk cheese gives the fresh pasta some depth and umami while the lemon and pepper brighten it up. Fava beans, when lightly boiled and shelled have a texture a bit like edamame, but they are much sweeter and have a flavor similar to peas.
1 1/2 C flour
1/2 cup boiled, squeezed and pureed stinging nettle
2 large eggs
1 C lightly boiled and shelled fava beans
2 Tbs EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
1/2 C grated Pecorino Grand Cru (or other hard Italian cheese)
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
zest of half a lemon
Put the flour in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Make a well in the flour and add the nettles and egg. Run the mixer at medium low speed until it more or less comes together.
You may need to add a little water, but go slow. Add a tsp of water then let it run for a minute before you decide to add more water. Once it’s all combined, turn up the speed to medium and let the dough hook work its kneading magic. Take the ball of dough and wrap it in plastic wrap and let it rest for about 20 minutes. This helps in the formation of gluten that will give your pasta a nice firm texture.
Run the pasta through your pasta machine following the machines directions then cut it in whatever shape you like. Make sure you dust the newly minted pasta with ample amounts of flour, otherwise it will stick together.
For the fava beans, shell the fava beans from the pods then boil a pot of well salted water dumping the beans in and cooking for about a minute. Drain the beans then shell again removing the pale green membrane on the outside of each bean.
Boil a large pot of well salted water then add the pasta making sure it doesn’t stick together. Boil for 2-3 minutes testing for a texture that pleases you. I like mine al dente.
Drain the pasta and toss with the shelled fava beans, olive oil, lemon zest, cheese and pepper.
Serve immediately. I like to have this with a grilled spicy sausage like chorizo or andouille, but it makes a fine meal on its own if you are of the veggie persuasion.