This recipe uses duck eggs in the dough, giving the pasta extra richness that is balanced out by the earthy flavours of nettles and a little zest from the lemon. We get beautiful fresh nettles brought to us from late winter all through spring by our friends Brian and Marion from their organic farm. It is possible if a little tricky to find them commercially but they do grow all over the place, so either get foraging or, as I’m sure I’ve said before, befriend a farmer.
- 10 litre bucket filled with unpicked stinging nettles (see Note)
- 75 g mascarpone
- 1 duck egg
- 1 large splash olive oil
- 2 small cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 3 lemons, zest grated
- 50 g grated parmesan
- river salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 200 g pasta flour
- 75 g semolina flour
- 10 g table salt
- 1 duck egg
- 2 duck egg yolks
- coarse semolina, for dusting
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Prepare your nettles first as this can take a little while and requires room and some concentration. Pick them wearing rubber gloves and long sleeves, carefully saving the buds and leaves and discarding the stems (see note).
To make the pasta dough, sift the dry ingredients onto a benchtop, making a well in the centre. Whisk together the egg and yolks, pour into the well and slowly start incorporating the flour into the egg until the dough comes together. Once together, knead for about another 5 minutes or until it starts looking smooth. Cover dough with plastic wrap and set aside to rest.
Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil. Using a pair of tongs, blanch the nettles for 10 seconds before refreshing them in iced water. You should have about 1 cup of blanched nettles. Drain the cooled nettles, squeeze out any excess water and roughly chop the ball of blanched greenness. Don't worry if they are a little slimy. Place in a bowl and set aside.
To roll the pasta sheets you first need to make sure you have a nice amount of bench space and a good spot to attach the pasta machine. Lightly flour your work space and divide dough into 2 portions to make it easier to work with (make sure you re-wrap the waiting portion of dough). Use a rolling pin to flatten out the dough so it fits between the widest settings of the pasta machine. Roll it through once, dust off excess flour, give it a book fold, another flattening with the rolling pin, a ninety degree turn, and then feed it through again. Repeat this step a couple of times until the dough has smooth edges and begins to look silky. Once you are satisfied, start rolling the dough through the machine without folding, narrowing the settings by 1 each time you roll it through. Continue until you reach the second-last setting. Cut pasta sheet in half and lay it on a tray sprinkled with coarse semolina. Throw a little more semolina on top and lay down the next sheet. Cover with a tea towel before repeating these steps with the next bit of dough until you have 4 sheets of pasta.
Take a sheet, give it a generous sprinkle of the coarse semolina and fold it in half along the length of the pasta sheet and then in half again. Using a knife, cut the pasta along the sheet into strips 1 mm wide. Gently separate all strands and place on a tray covered with a tea towel while you repeat with the remaining pasta.
Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil.
Whisk together the mascarpone and egg in a small bowl until well combined.
Place another large pan on medium heat, add a large splash of olive oil and the garlic. As soon as the garlic begins to sizzle, add the nettles and warm through.
Gently rain the pasta into the saucepan of boiling water, separating the strands as they hit the water. Tagliolini is very thin and should take no more than 2 minutes to cook. Once cooked, strain and add to the pan with the nettles, quickly mixing it through with the lemon zest and parmesan. Remove from the heat and stir through the egg and mascarpone mixture until nicely combined.
Season and serve immediately.
• When dealing with nettles remain alert but do not become alarmed. Firstly don’t ever make the mistake of touching nettles with your bare hands; they’re called stinging nettles for a reason.
Photography by Benito Martin. Styling by Jerrie-Joy Redman-Lloyd. Lace fabric underneath canvas from Radford. Bowl and tiny bowl with salt from The Fortynine Studio. Small board from The Country Trader.