It's quite easy to find nettles in the markets for most of the year here. But don't worry if you can't get a hold of them, you can substitute kale or spinach, no problem.
6 - 8 ounces stinging nettles*
8 ounces small dried pasta (orecchiette, orzo, etc)
extra virgin olive oil
1 large clove garlic, minced
a big handful of toasted almond slices
3 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
a handful of onion sprouts
feta cheese, crumbled - as much or as little as you like
fine grain sea salt
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt well, as you would for pasta water, and add the nettles straight from the bag so as not to get stung (or use gloves to handle them). Boil until the nettles wilt, just 20 seconds or so, then use a slotted spoon to remove the nettles from the pot. Run under cold water, drain well, then strip the leaves from any big stems. Chop the leaves into a paste.
In the meantime, bring the nettle water back to a boil, add the pasta, and boil until just tender. Reserve a cup of the nettle water, and drain the pasta.
Place the pasta pot back on the burner over medium-high heat, adding 1/2 cup / 120 ml of the reserved pasta water, a splash of olive oil, and the chopped garlic. Bring to a simmer, the add the pasta and chopped nettles. Add more pasta water if needed. Stir well, and add most of the almonds and sesame seeds. Taste and add more salt if needed. Remove from heat and stir in most of the onion sprouts before turning out into a bowl. Serve family-style topped with feta, the remaining almonds, sesame seeds, and sprouts, drizzled with olive oil.
*Use gloves when handling raw stinging nettles. A quick blanch in boiling water will neutralize their stinging power.
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