Our front garden was suddenly infested with nettles and other weeds. We tried to get rid of our weed problem in the front garden by covering it with ivy, but due to the very cold winter the ivy was a slow starter this year and the weeds were faster. But we got our revenge on the nettles… by eating them! (Those of you who can read Italian had already figured that out, since tortelli di ortiche means nettle tortelli). I had tried tortelli di ortiche in Italy once or twice and liked it, so when we removed the weeds from the garden we kept the nettles seperate. The recipe is basically the same as spinach tortelli (or ravioli), but the nettles have a more elegant flavor than the spinach.
For 4 servings
500 grams (1 pound) leaves of nettles
125 grams (1/4 pound) ricotta
4 Tbsp freshly grated parmigiano reggiano
salt and freshly ground black pepper
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
200 grams Italian 00 flour
freshly grated parmigiano reggiano
Take the leaves from the nettles using gloves. Wash them a few times in cold water (using gloves or a slotted spoon to move them around in the water) until there is no more sand. Boil them for 8 minutes in salted water.
Drain the nettles.
Squeeze them dry using an old kitchen towel.
Puree the nettles in a food processor, together with 1 egg, the ricotta, freshly grated parmigiano reggiano, salt and freshly ground black pepper. Taste to adjust the seasoning.
Since nettles have a nicer flavor than spinach, I like to use less ricotta than with spinach.
Refrigerate the stuffing for at least an hour to let it get firmer.
Meanwhile, make pasta dough out of the other 2 eggs and the 00 flour. Let it rest and roll it out as thin as possible.
I’ve tried two different ways of making tortelli, and I haven’t made them often enough to decide which way I like better.
One way is to put teaspoons of filling on the sheet of pasta about as far apart as the diameter of the round shape (a cookie cutter or just a glass) you will use to cut out the tortelli, about 8 cm (3 inches).
Fold over the sheet like for ravioli, and cut out a ‘mezzaluna’ (half moon) as shown.
The alternative method is to cut rounds out of the dough…
…putting a teaspoon of stuffing on it…
…and close it to obtain a mezzaluna.
The final step is to close the mezzaluna around your finger to obtain a tortello.
Continue until you have used up all the stuffing and dough. Put the tortelli on a tray dusted with flour.
Cook the tortelli in boiling salted water for a few minutes.
Serve them with a simple sauce of butter and sage on preheated plates, sprinkled with freshly grated parmigiano reggiano.