Nettle Pasta

Nettle Pasta Recipe

It has been a good week. Aside from the paper cuts. Things related to this little monster are coming together, and unless I've totally blown it, packages should start going out as planned in the coming weeks. There might even be a preview ready in the next few days. Maybe! In the meantime, there are a couple things I'm excited to share. First, a nettle pasta recipe I've been in love with lately. And then, a few snapshots from a walk I took to the Golden Gate bridge the night of its 75th birthday celebration.

Nettle Pasta RecipeNettle Pasta RecipeNettle Pasta Recipe

The pasta is a breeze. For those of you who've never cooked with nettles (I suspect this might be a good number of you), buy some the next time you come across them. They're easier to deal with than you think. Here I quickly blanch them straight from the bag they came in, in the same water I cook the pasta. One pot, no stings. I add toasted almonds for crunch, feta because its tangy creaminess plays nice with the nettles, and onion sprouts. Bit of garlic.

Nettle Pasta RecipeNettle Pasta RecipeNettle Pasta Recipe

I really should have packed the leftovers (and more layers!) for our expedition to the bridge, but we went on a bit of a whim, and I didn't think it through entirely. There was a news report predicting half a million people would attend the celebration, they were closing the span to all traffic for an hour, and it seemed worth checking out. So we walked out the front door around 6pm, and, over the next few hours, made our way to the ridge just to the right of the south tower.

Nettle Pasta RecipeNettle Pasta RecipeNettle Pasta Recipe

There were a lot of people, and it was a beautiful San Francisco evening, and thankfully there was plenty of space from everyone. People were spread out for miles along the hills and shoreline. It was one of those things that turned San Francisco into something its typically not - a city where people are out and about late at night, bustling to get here or there. Because of the lack of parking (and buses and taxis), it felt like everyone walked in. Which meant they also walked out. Anyway, it was nice in a lot of ways. And it was a nice reminder that sometimes a really long walk, fireworks or not, is a perfect way to spend a night out. xo -h

Nettle Pasta

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.

Serves 4.

*Use gloves when handling raw stinging nettles. A quick blanch in boiling water will neutralize their stinging power.

Prep time: 5 minutes - Cook time: 15 minutes

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

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Comments

  • I'm still yet to come across nettles in my shopping expeditions, but most definitely want to try them if I ever do! That's a gorgeous looking pasta.

    leaf (the indolent cook)
  • When I worked in Switzerland we would often have to avoid the stinging nettles while we collected our plant samples. I remember my boss mentioning that his mother made a nettle soup and I couldn't believe it!! But here it is again in food! And I'm sure it's delicious!

    Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar
  • oooh, I've never heard of nettle- good to know! I'd love to try this!

    Simply Life
  • I guess I didn't know much about nettles before reading this post. I'm intrigued. Gorgeous, gorgeous pictures!

    Maryea {Happy Healthy Mama}
  • I guess I didn't know much about nettles before reading this post. I'm intrigued. Gorgeous, gorgeous pictures!

    Maryea {Happy Healthy Mama}
  • This pasta looks wonderful, I love the combination of the peppery nettles with the smooth feta. Delicious. And your photos have made me so excited for our trip to San Fran in the summer!

    Kathryn
  • I remember that once in Italy I tasted a nettles frittata and it was delicious. I would really like to try this pasta but the question is where in the world am I going to find nettle in NYC. Guess that I'll have to plan a hiking trip and find it in NYC's outskirts...

    HS: Mike, I bet you can get them at any reasonably-sized Farmers' market there. Happy hunting.

    Mike @TheIronYou
  • What a lovely evening and recepie! Have a wondeful day!

    Monsterscircus
  • Nettles have so many health benefits and are so good for you! I need to pick some up and make this recipe. And I love that picture of you!

    Averie @ Averie Cooks
  • I've never cooked with nettles either! What an intriguing idea. I love the flavours in your pasta dish. Also long evening walks are the best in summer :)

    Caz
  • I would never have thought of the sesame seed addition! Looks fabulous. Stinging nettles always remind me of my grandparent's place out in Minnesota. My grandmother would harvest them wild and throw them into soups and pickle the stems.

    Susan Sharp
  • This looks fantastic. I will try! We almost always order pizza with nettles at a local pizza place (Ragazza, you must know it!). Delicious! The fireworks were rattling our windows like a quake that night. Your photos of the event are beautiful!

    HS: Oh, I know it! That is one of my favorite pizzas.

    Tiffanie Turner
  • Hi, there's no nettles here in Beijing, China. But I'm suspecting that it could be replaced with "amaranth". It's really difficult to cook "organic" here in China but come check out what's cooking here in this part of the world!

    Mandy L@lady and pups
  • hello heidi - i've never cooked with nettle, nor recognized them at markets. as a matter of fact i've had very little to do with them so far, other than occasional herbal teas. one memorable use of nettle i've encountered is nettle-flavored (white) chocolate that i found in france which i rather enjoyed. anyhow, the dish looks and sounds great! hope i'll have a chance to get my hands on some! and good luck with the quitokeeto project, really excited about it! x

    chika
  • The GGB pictures - those fireworks! I too love those rare nights when SF comes alive. I recently made your summer pasta from Super Natural Every Day using nettles instead of zucchini, since we don't have zucchini yet - I found the parmesan to be really good with them. Not as creamy-delicious as the feta you use here probably is though- this sounds wonderful. Can't wait to try it.

    Hannah
  • I love nettles. I pick them out and about and use them for soup. I also blanch and freeze them, to be used in green smoothies. Love the taste of them!

    Fanny
  • I absolutely LOVE nettles! I usually toss them in olive oil, garlic and crushed red pepper, and then use them as a topping for pizza. Great idea to add them into pasta, will be doing this soon!

    Anjali @ The Picky Eater
  • Sounds great Heidi, nettles grow wild all around my place. I might put on some gloves to pick some and make this!

    Louisa
  • Love this! Always looking for new ways to use nettles and their nutrition powerhouse!

    butternutrition
  • I have always been too scared of stinging nettles to buy them (let alone pick my own, as it's apparently easy to do around Seattle). But I've had enough great preparations of them lately that I am just going to have to get over it. I like the idea of dumping them straight from the bag into the pot!

    emmycooks
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