The only thing growing at our allotment at the moment is stinging nettles, which I have never tried cooking with before so thought I would give them a go.
Three tips if using nettles in cooking:
1. Use thick gloves to pick and prepare them - I thought thin plastic gloves would do, and got stung through them. Ouch! Heavy-duty rubber or gardening gloves are a must until the nettles have been boiled.
2. This time of year is ideal to get the smaller, tender leaves - later in the year they will be a bit too thick and woody. Try to pick leaves from the top of the plant and leave the lower ones for the same reason. Choose nettle plants that are well away from roads - they absorb exhaust fumes.
3. Once you have picked them, rinse well in cold water and remove the stems. Plop into a pan of boiling water and when you remove them a few minutes later they will have lost their sting.
This is another recipe using new Maille mustard flavours - this time its a wholegrain mustard with white wine and black olives, perfect with capers and créme fraiche for a quick sauce. If you don't have time to make the ravioli, this would make a lovely sauce with supermarket stuffed pasta too.
Nettle Ravioli with Wholegrain Mustard & Caper Sauce
For the pasta:
- 350 g pasta flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 egg
- 3 egg yolks
- 1 lemon zest
For the filling:
- freshly picked nettles a large freezer bag full
- 200 g ricotta cheese
- 50 g parmesan-style hard cheese grated
For the sauce:
- 100 g créme fraiche
- 1 tablespoon wholegrain mustard
- 1 tablespoon capers
- 1 lemon juice
- 25 g butter
- parmesan-style hard cheese as above
- Make the pasta dough - blitz all the ingredients in a food processor, and if necessary add a little water to bring together into a dough. Knead the dough until glossy and smooth. Wrap in cling film and chill.
- Prepare the filling. Wearing very durable gloves, put the nettles into a saucepan and boil for 2-3 minutes. Drain and set aside a few leaves for garnish, then chop the rest very finely. Combine in a bowl with the rest of the filling ingredients, season with salt and pepper and set aside.
- Take the pasta dough and divide into 8. Roll out each section as thinly as possible using a pasta machine or by hand. Taking one long section of dough, place a teaspoon of filling at 2-inch intervals. Brush around the filling with water then place a second section of dough on top of the first and press down firmly around the blobs of filling. Cut either into squares or use a round pastry cutter to make individual ravioli. Repeat with all the remaining filling and dough - I made 18 ravioli out of these quantities which is enough for 6 as a starter. (You can also freeze the ravioli at this stage).
- To make the sauce, combine the créme fraiche, mustard, lemon juice, butter and capers in a small saucepan and heat gently until just bubbling.
- Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and drop in the ravioli. Boil for 5-7 minutes until the pasta is tender. Drain and drizzle with the sauce, then scatter over the remaining nettle leaves and parmesan-style cheese shavings and serve immediately.