Revenge on the Nettles (Tortelli di Ortiche)

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

3 eggs

200 grams Italian 00 flour

To serve



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.


8 thoughts on “Revenge on the Nettles (Tortelli di Ortiche)

  1. You are pushing me towards the pasta maker. They look awesome. All the tastier, I am sure for the sweet taste of revenge on the nettles.


    1. Making your own pasta takes some practice, but once you get the hang of it, it doesn’t take that much time and especially with stuffed pasta it is well worth the effort!


  2. Love nettles! Have to order through our restaurant’s vegetable supplier as, aside from the sporadic farmer’s market, they are not easy to find. Once again, you made my mouth water


      1. I actually live in the LA wilderness but they are not as easy to find as in Europe (they were all over my country house garden growing up). Here we are plagued by poison ivy which, to my knowledge, is just annoying and not at all edible!


        1. Now that I think about it, I think I’ve only seen nettles in places with plenty of water and plenty of fertilizer, and never in places like Puglia. Perhaps it’s too dry in LA. Oh well you can always eat venison from your garden (attracted by the roses), that still beats my nettles…


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