One of my food adventures on my trip to Italy in 2010 was to make pasta with my mother. Her most famous recipe is pasta made with Stinging Nettles. A delicate chore to collect, but the views of the Dolomites improved the condition. This is the kind of recipe that first inspired me to start Smith Meadows Kitchen. When my mother was a girl her family used everything in the garden and the field in their recipes. Nettles are abundant in vitamins and minerals. High in potassium, iron, sulphur, vitamin C, vitamin A and B complex vitamins nettles provide a high amount of dense nutrition with very little calories.
Liliana’s garden is under the shadow of St. Gertrude in Gisbenti, a small collection of houses outside of Valli del Pasubio. My step-father Luciano grew up collecting chestnuts, dandelion greens, and strawberries all along beautiful streams that pour out of the mountains. In their retirement they have thoroughly enjoyed tending to their little plot of land, making their own bread, tomato sauce, and of course their own pasta.
After the nettles have been pressed of all their cooking water, they are blended together with egg in a food processor. Once the mixture has a smooth, frothy green color, it can be blended together with olive oil, flour and a little salt to make a deep green dough. We recommend making either fettucine or papardelle. An atlas or an imperia machine is the standard for most households. The hand cranking is how we suspect most Italian housewives secretly work out as they prepare the Sunday meal. A hearty bolognese sauce is the best compliment to these noodles. A combination of pork, veal and beef is a classic, but when you’re in a pinch 92% lean Smith Meadows ground beef will do just fine. In Italy you can also get by with duck or venison. When served with a Pinot Noir, you can really taste the subtle flavor of the nettles. The taste is very similar to a buckwheat pasta, but the texture is smooth.
As you can see it also looks beautiful on the plate. Buon Appetito!