Green On Green

Today I had to keep it simple; it’s getting into crazy time with the number of projects looming on the near horizon. Today was rainy, but warm- another sign that we’re into the next season- and the temptation is always to rush into the summer flavors even though they’re not actually here yet. So I tried to focus on what is here, and make it as good as possible. I find it frustrating, though, since it’s a tough time for getting certain things locally, especially fruit. I was in a market that I don’t usually shop at the other day, and the smell of all the incredible fruit from all over the world sent me into a tizzy. But I didn’t buy any, not that time.

Instead, I cut a bunch of stinging nettles from the patch between the ramps (done) and the blackberries (far, far away) and brought them in to process. Steamed up in their own rinsing water, then spun in the food processor, they became that unbelievable dark green that looks more like paint than food:

Nettlesome.

and then I evaporated off more of the liquid in our new post-teflon nonstick pan, and stirred the thick green goop into the pasta dough.

Nettle-icious.

And then I ran it through the pasta machine. (No pictures, since it takes two hands to do that part.) Meanwhile, I cut some of our very own salt pork into little cubes and browned it in a pat of butter. Yes, butter is the magic ingredient that makes salt pork become carnal perfection, adding a sweetness to the rich, clean herbal tang of the pork fat. To this, some flour to make a little roux, then a splash of white wine followed by milk, dried porcini mushrooms soaked in some of the nettle cooking liquid, more of the nettle purée, and then a little more butter to adjust the consistency for a proper balance between the two conflicting sauce coefficients of pasta adhesion and lubrication.

For lack of any other herbs (I was rushed) it got garnished with a few radishes for snap and color, a dribble of truffle oil, and was accompanied by a salad of our penultimate little heads of bibb and butter lettuces that regrew in the winter bed. It worked very well; the pasta had a nice green flavor balanced by the eggy bite, and the sauce was pretty insane, but restrained due to the relatively small amount- it was just enough to coat the noodles and provide porky surprises in every other bite. We had the luxury of eating this with a glass of the Savennières from last night, followed by a Mas de Gourgonnier rosé that really got along with this dish- with fraises des bois positively leaping out of the glass in counterpoint to the mushroom and nettle earthiness. And then, for dessert, a last glass of the Carver Sutro petite sirah from last night, since the rosé will keep just fine in the fridge.

Nettle-cine.

6 comments to Green On Green

  • Zoomie

    Even here in California there’s not much local fruit in the markets yet, except for strawberries. If this is your idea of a “quick dinner”…!

  • We Are Never Full

    is this the new trend in food that i’ve missed out on? someone else in the food blog world just posted THE SAME nettles pasta on his blog. I feel very out of the loop.

  • Zoomie

    I read about stinging nettles everywhere, now. I guess it’s the latest food craze.

  • Heather

    One thing: Milo is plenty old enough to wield a camera, don’tcha think?

    Nettles aren’t really new, if you read any Euell Gibbons (I do). I can’t take the sting, though. Hurts my skin!

  • peter

    Zoomie and Amy: I don’t know if they’re trendy, but I do know that they’re ubiquitous, delicious, very nutritious, and absolutely free.

    Heather: He is, but not so good at the aiming part. Much of his recent work is more conceptual in nature.

    And I wear big rubber gloves and never get stung.

  • cook eat FRET

    never have gone the nettle route -
    intriguing…

    but the pasta/sauce – i’d have ordered it from a menu, easily.

Yours Truly



I'm a painter who happens to also spend a lot of time growing, making, and writing about food. I'm particularly interested in the intersection of frugal peasant cooking techniques and haute improvisation. And I have a really great personality.

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