Nettle Pesto Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Ricotta Salata

A delicious and fresh pasta dish with nettle pesto.
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 5 minutes
Total: 20 minutes
Servings: 3 to 4 main-course-sized servings.
Author: The Bojon Gourmet

Ingredients

Nettle Pesto:

  • 3-4 ounces young stinging nettles, (4-5 cups, packed)
  • 6 tablespoons sliced almonds (plus 4 tablespoons for topping the pasta), lightly toasted and cooled
  • 2 medium cloves of garlic, smashed and peeled
  • zest of 1 small lemon
  • 2 ounces parmesan cheese, grated , (3/4 cup)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Pasta and such:

  • 1/2 cup of pesto (from above)
  • 8 ounces fresh pasta (such as linguine)
  • 8 sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, squeezed of excess oil and slivered
  • 8 oil-cured olives, smashed, pitted and chopped fairly fine
  • 1/2 cup crumbled ricotta salata , (about 2 ounces)
  • 4 tablespoons sliced almonds, lightly toasted (from above)

Instructions

Make the pesto:

  • Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Prepare an ice bath and set it aside. Rinse the nettles, touching them only with tongs or gloved hands, then plunge them into the boiling water until they wilt and turn bright green, about 30 seconds. Drain the nettles, then dump them into the ice bath. When they have cooled, drain them again and squeeze out the excess water (their spines will not be stingy anymore, so you can use your bare hands).
  • Place the blanched and drained nettles in a food processor with the 6 tablespoons of almonds, garlic, lemon zest, parmesan and salt. Blend until smooth-ish, then slowly pour in the olive oil with the motor running until you have a homogenous, green paste. You will have about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups. Store the pesto in the fridge until needed; it will stay green for about a week.

Make the pasta:

  • Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add 1/4 cup of the hot water to the 1/2 cup of pesto and stir to combine (this will warm and loosen the pesto, helping it coat the pasta). Have the other ingredients ready to go.
  • Boil the fresh pasta for 1-2 minutes (or as the package instructs). Reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water (in case you need to moisten the pasta some more), then drain the pasta and place it in a large bowl. Toss with the pesto, tomatoes, olives, cheese and almonds (reserving some for garnish if you like), moistening it with more pasta water if the pasta seems dry. Serve immediately.

Notes

Be sure to only handle raw nettles with tongs or rubber gloves so as not to get their tiny, welt-raising spines stuck in your skin. (Once the nettles are cooked, touching or eating them is completely safe).
This recipe makes enough pesto for 2-3 rounds of pasta, each serving 3-4. Alternately, extra pesto is great on sandwiches, with eggs, swirled into a bean-based soup, or on pizza. It will stay green in a jar in the fridge for at least a week.
If you lack fresh pasta, use 6 ounces of dry pasta, adjusting the cooking time (and the other ingredients if needed).
Nutritional values are based on one of three servings.

Nutrition

Calories: 533kcal | Carbohydrates: 53g | Protein: 26g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 93mg | Sodium: 726mg | Potassium: 563mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 21.9% | Vitamin C: 11.7% | Calcium: 50.8% | Iron: 23.8%
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