“We’re all so used to shopping in supermarkets these days, we sometimes forget what nature has to offer. Stinging nettles might sound like a bit of an unusual ingredient, but they’re actually a source of vitamin C, and when handled and cooked properly, they’re nothing to be afraid of — they’ve been used in food and cooking for millennia. The basic rules are to always wear gloves, avoid picking near busy roads or path edges where dogs may have passed, and give them a thorough wash back home. ”
- 500 g Tipo “00” flour , plus extra for dusting
- 5 large free-range eggs
- 250 g stinging nettles or greens , such as spinach
- 2 leeks
- unsalted butter
- ½ a bunch of fresh marjoram or thyme , (15g)
- 1 whole nutmeg
- 100 g Parmesan cheese
- 100 g soft cheese such as ricotta, brie, feta
- Start by making the pasta dough. Pile the flour into a large bowl and make a well in the middle. Add the eggs to the well, use a fork to whip up the eggs until smooth (add a tablespoon of cold water, if needed), then gradually bring the flour in from the outside until it becomes too hard to mix. With floured hands, bring it together into a ball of dough.
- Knead the dough on a flour-dusted surface for 4 minutes, or until smooth and elastic (add a touch more water or flour, if needed). Cover with a clean damp tea towel and leave to relax for 30 minutes.
- For the filling, you’ll need to wear rubber gloves. Rinse the nettles in cold water, then strip the leaves into a large bowl, discarding the stalks. Trim the leeks, halve lengthways, wash and slice 2cm thick.
- Place a large non-stick frying pan on a medium heat with 1 knob of butter, strip in the marjoram and stir in the leeks. Season with a small pinch of sea salt, add a grating of nutmeg, and sweat for 15 minutes, or until softened, stirring regularly.
- Stir the nettle leaves into the pan, allow to wilt down completely (about 5 minutes), then turn off the heat. If using spinach, blanch it in boiling water first, drain in a colander and squeeze out the excess water before adding it to the herby leek pan, then stir through and turn off the heat.
- Tip the mixture onto a board and chop super-finely. Finely grate over most of the Parmesan, and add the soft cheese, then chop again, mixing as you go.
- To make the ravioli, take a third of the pasta dough (save the rest in a container in the fridge for tasty cooking another day) and roll out a sheet that is just 1mm thick – use a pasta machine, or do it by hand with a rolling pin.
- Once you have a thin sheet (you should be able to see your hand through it), lay it out horizontally on a flour-dusted surface in front of you. Place teaspoonfuls of your filling along the lower half of the pasta sheet, 8cm apart. Brush the upper edge of the pasta with water and fold it towards you, covering the filling and pressing around it to remove any air.
- Use a pasta cutter or knife to cut out the ravioli. Pop them on a flour-dusted tray and repeat with the rest of the dough.
- Place a large pan of water on to boil with a good pinch of salt. Get a small saucepan on a low heat and add a knob of butter, letting it slowly melt.
- Reduce the water to a simmer, and cook 6 pieces of ravioli at a time (2 portions) for 1 minute, or until cooked but still with a little bite.
- Scoop the pasta straight into the buttery sauce, bringing some starchy cooking water with it, toss gently, then spoon on to warmed plates.
- Finish each portion with shavings of Parmesan. Serve up to your first lucky guests, while you crack on with the next 2 portions.
— We love to serve this with crispy fried nettles and a good squeeze of lemon.
— If using a small pasta machine, make two long pasta sheets and simply layer them on top of one another, rather than making one big one and folding it towards you.
— If you fancy freezing your ravioli, store it uncooked between layers of greaseproof paper, then pop it in a resealable sandwich bag to freeze flat. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes from frozen.
— If you can’t get hold of Tipo “00” flour, you can use plain flour instead and achieve a similar effect. Just make sure you cook and eat the pasta on the day you make it, as it doesn’t sit quite as happily.
Source: Jamie Oliver