nettle has been just a stinging herbaceous stuff found in the fields for pretty much my whole life.
if someone had told my ten-years-old self that one day I’d have cooked with nettle, my answer would have likely been a loud laugh. back to my childhood days, I remember a couple lads asking me to pick a bunch of nettles to prove I was brave enough to join their gang. I’ve never been on the girly side, especially when I was outside in the fields.
of course I didn’t pick the chafing plants, making sure to avoid them every time I spotted some in the long distance instead. back then, I used to wonder how people would make food out of such plants – I knew adults used to make nettle risotto and pasta, but I just couldn’t wrap my head around the reason why one should pick stinging vegetables when a whole array of harmless alternatives were available.
truth is, I am such a curious human and experimental cook, so when I spotted dry nettle pasta nests in a shop I could’t keep myself from buying a few. they were piled high in a glass container, amongst the other ones with different varieties of rice and pasta. I fell in love with their smell, the tangled twine and the deep green speckles! oh, how far aesthetic can take a lady!
a little note on that shop: it. was. heaven. like really. lots of beans, rice, pasta, spices, dried fruits, loose leaf teas and herbal teas, nuts, and even cookies and locally produced hard candies, everything package-free and with a strong emphasis on the plantbased lifestyle and diet. I’d have bought everything, of course, but I figured that a deliciously scented green tea with pomegranate, some dry miso powder and the nettle pasta I used for this recipe were a nice starting point. expect some kind of miso-based recipe in the near future 😉
I’ve never found fresh nettle at the market where I live, so having the chance to put my hands on some premade yet still wholesome food that involved said vegetable was a win. plus I’d have no idea how to deal with nettles, so major win here! someone did the hard work for me. perks of being a grown up I’d say?
as soon as I left the shop I started thinking about how I’d have cooked those nettle tagliolini. I wanted something light and fresh to complement the herbaceous flavor I thought nettles would have, so after a quick brainstorming with the boyfriend and the lovely shop owner, I settled for an almond, lemon and thyme pesto.
apparently I do make a lot of pesto variations lately – like this post, or the arugula pesto flatbreads from my ebook, or a few other takes on the original recipe I’ll have coming shortly. the one I’m sharing today is perfect for spring, with an abundance of fresh thyme, zesty lemon and crunchy almonds. it’d be perfect atop some steaming hot brown rice, with an extra drizzle of premium olive oil… mmh!
this recipe is naturally vegan, as long as you shop for eggless pasta. tagliolini, tagliatelle and other similar varieties of pasta usually have eggs in, because they act as a binding agent. so make sure to check the label if you want to avoid them! on the other hand, if you have no problem with egg or even dairy consumption, go for that fresh pasta and grate some pecorino cheese on top 🙂
pro tip for when you’re cooking noodles: make sure to boil enough salted water, always add a touch of oil to it to prevent the pasta from sticking together, and gently stir with a wooden fork every now and then. as soon as you drain the pasta, save some cooking water to loosen the sauce and add another glug of oil to the noodles, stirring gently to coat.
that’s all I have to say for now.
I hope you’ll like this recipe and the spring vibe I decided to infuse the shots with, and if you did, don’t forget to let me know!
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zingy nettle pasta nests meet a spring take on pesto, with lemon, almonds and thyme. a vegan pasta dish that will jazz up your pasta routine and sneak extra veggies in thanks to the nettles!
- 4 to 6 nests nettle pasta, I used tagliolini (about 200g total)
- 1 organic lemon, zest + juice
- a handful almonds
- 2 to 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 a bunch fresh thyme
- salt, to taste
in a food processor add all the ingredients for the pesto, minus the olive oil and lemon juice, and blitz to break up almonds into pieces and chop the thyme. a rough chop is fine.
add oil and lemon juice and pulse a few times to combine. the pesto will be rather thick, but you'll add some cooking water from the pasta later on.
transfer to a small bowl and set aside.
bring a pot of salted water to a boil. add a glug of olive oil, then lower the heat to medium-low and add the pasta. increase to medium and cook for about 5 minutes, or until al dente. if you're not sure about the cooking time, follow the package directions.
drain the pasta, making sure to save some cooking water to loosen the pesto.
return the pasta to the pot, add a generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and stir to coat the noodles evenly. this should prevent them from sticking together.
add a splash of cooking water to the pesto, then mix it into the cooked pasta. you can add some more water or olive oil if you so please.
garnish with extra fresh thyme and lemon zest, and serve immediately!
this recipe is naturally vegan, as long as your pasta does not contain eggs. italian noodles typically do have them, so make sure to check the ingredient list.
if you can have eggs and/or you can't find egg-free pasta, regular tagliatelle will work just fine.
this pesto is awesome atop any kind of pasta or noodles, and even for rice or other grains.