Nettle & Ricotta Ravioli
For March a simple light pasta dish as a starter or supper using the tops of nettle plants and fresh ricotta. It is early in the nettle season, their little shoots just visible amongst the grass on the hedgerows and in our gardens, so the precautions of gloves and sturdy trousers that nettle-foraging later in the summer requires are not so important. These tender shoots are quite beautiful once you disassociate memories of nettle-rashed childhood knees; the colour intense and the flavour a little like spinach. Packed full of vitamins and satisfyingly free. We advocate no-trace foraging at Thyme, but this particular wild crop is quite capable of protecting itself no matter how hard the diligent gardener tries to irradicate it - so use it throughout March, April and May as a nutritious boost to your spring larder. Just nip out the top four or five leaves, they are the most tender and once blanched free from the sting.
Ingredients for the pasta:
- 125g semolina
- 125g 00 flour
- 2 medium eggs
Ingredients for the filling:
- 125g nettle tops
- 215g ricotta
- 35 g Parmigiano Reggiano
- A little egg
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- To make the pasta, mix the semolina and the flour together in a large bowl. Tip out on to a work surface and make a small well in the middle. Break the eggs into the well and mix together until the dough is formed. Wrap in cling film and rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile you can make the filling by blanching the nettle tops for 1 minute in boiling water before draining. Keep the drained water aside for later. When cool and completely drained, finely chop.
- In a bowl, beat together the egg and the ricotta, the pinch of mace, the nettles and half of the Parmigiano. Add salt and pepper to taste and return the mixture to the fridge to chill whilst making the pasta.
- Using the pasta machine, roll the dough through the various settings until the pasta is as thin as you can get it. Using a 8-10cm pastry cutter, prepare about 4 discs per person.
- With a teaspoon place some of the mixture in the middle of the disc and close together to form a half moon shape, making sure that there is no air left inside. With a fork press the sides together to ensure they stick – water getting in will ruin the ravioli.
- Cook the ravioli in salted, boiling water for 4-5 minutes before serving with the springtime sauce.