WS Field Office Forage: Stinging Nettle Pasta

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WildSnow backcountry field office is a powder blanketed play land in winter. Come spring it turns into a lush alpine park. The aspen forests are carpeted with four foot fiddle ferns. Higher up, you’ll find fields of raspberries and wild flowers.

Nettle plant

Stinging nettles

One day I recklessly hiked through the woods in sandals. The next week I was plagued by itchy welts from stinging nettles. As I was searching the internet for remedies to alleviate the persistent irritant, I came across quite a few recipes. I’d heard of nettle tea but was intrigued to find directions for everything from nettle schnapps to stinging nettle pizza. There’s even a raw nettle eating contest in England every year (no mouth numbing substances are permitted — although a swig of beer in between mouthfuls is allowed). I decided to try something a bit tamer: stinging nettle pasta.

Having never made pasta before, I went to our local consignment store and scored an almost new, Italian made Atlas pasta machine for $12 (MSRP over $60). Taking that as a good omen, I gathered a bag of nettles a few days later. At 4:00 p.m. I started working in the kitchen on a day when when our friend, Joe Rizzi, was around. Tapping into his Italian roots, he answered questions when I was stumped by the directions. He didn’t seem too excited to join us for dinner but by 6:00 I coaxed him and Lou to sit down. By 7:00 the plates were clean and no one’s throat had closed up. Experiment successful!

Stinging Nettle Pasta

2 cups chopped nettles
4 cups all-purpose flour
4 eggs
1 tablespoon water
1/8 teaspoon salt

Chopped nettles

Blanche nettles in boiling water to remove sting. Squeeze out excess water and chop.

Food processor pureeing the nettles

Puree nettles in food processor.

Nettles and flour

Add rest of ingredients.

Pasta dough

Knead dough, adding flour until it forms a smooth ball.

Ready to make pasta

Ready to make pasta.

First step with machine

Following the directions that came with the machine, I rolled the dough to thickness level 5.

Fettuccine

Fettuccine wide strips.

Pasta drying

Our laundry room became a handy drying rack.

Bowl of pasta

Ta da, dinner!

Nettles are ten percent protein with high levels of calcium, magnesium, iron, and potassium. They’re also a good source of vitamin C, beta-carotene, B complex and easily absorbable amino acids. Stinging nettle is said to be one of the most powerful wild foods, full with iron, magnesium and silicon. Some folks juice them and add them to smoothies, and the sting is said to enhance the intimate love experience in certain poorly understood and difficult to research ways.

Sources on the internet praised nettles for stabilizing blood sugar; enhancing the operation of the circulatory, immune, endocrine, and nervous systems; reducing fatigue and exhaustion; and eliminating chronic headaches. Quite impressive for something which I thought was just an annoying weed. Maybe I’ll try a smoothie next.

Shop for Marcato Atlas Wellness 150 Pasta Maker, Stainless Steel

Comments

16 Responses to “WS Field Office Forage: Stinging Nettle Pasta”

  1. Frame July 4th, 2012 5:28 am

    Good source of vitamin A also. We dry them, crush them and sprinkle over meals. No issues with sting.

    Tea tree oil is usefule for stopping itching… works on insect bites anyway.

  2. Joe July 5th, 2012 1:24 pm

    Next up elk pasta come fall!

  3. Ola July 5th, 2012 5:03 pm

    I grew up eating lots of nettle soup.
    We’d make it with a cream or milk base.
    It tastes especially good after a long day of playing in the snow.

  4. ron July 5th, 2012 9:50 pm

    next time you get “stung” by nettles, cut open the stem and rub it onto the sting for instant relief…works for me:)

  5. Tom Davies July 6th, 2012 7:56 am

    In the great PNW , pluck a sword fern frond and rub the underside spores onto the effected skin . Instant relief from stinging nettles .

  6. Lisa July 8th, 2012 8:51 am

    Frame, thanks for the tip about drying the leaves. I’ll try it.

  7. Lisa July 8th, 2012 8:59 am

    Ola, nettle soup is on my do-list. Thanks for the suggestion.

  8. Lisa July 8th, 2012 9:04 am

    Ron and Tom, thanks for the remedies. I’ve also heard Dock plant works well, and often grows near nettles.

  9. Frame July 9th, 2012 6:13 am

    I hesitate to ‘go here’… Dock has also been used as an alternative toilet paper. It would be a sorry day that the two uses described here and above had to be put into play.

  10. chris July 9th, 2012 9:13 am

    If I’m honest it looks a lot nicer then I expected. lunch idea for the team at Simply Piste.

  11. Joe July 12th, 2012 10:33 pm

    @chris I thought the same thing I truly hesitated at first. Tried not to show it but you can’t turn down fresh pasta!

    Planning a tomato infused fettuccine for the weekend to cut down on one less thing to carry camping. + firebans in most of the state “spark” creativity for backcountry recipes.

  12. Sandy July 13th, 2012 9:55 am

    @Joe: recipe please!

  13. Joe July 13th, 2012 10:41 am

    @Sandy
    Red Pasta
    7/8 pound (400 g, or 3 1/3 cups) flour
    9 ounces (250 g) carrots
    3 eggs
    A tablespoon of tomato paste
    A pinch of salt

    Best with a cream sauce. But I’m planning to finish it with simple olive oil & cracked black pepper,

  14. Sandy July 13th, 2012 1:38 pm

    @Joe: thanks!

  15. ml242 July 26th, 2012 12:32 pm

    Lou,

    I recently came across a lot of nettles in a bushwhack I wrote about for the NY Ski Blog, which I picked after being inspired by your article.

    http://nyskiblog.com/hiking-rusk-mountain/

    Turns out though, the raspberries were much easier to identify. It seems that because our weeds in the northeast don’t have the heart shaped bottom attaching the leaf to them stem, I was skeptical about eating them. It looks like what we have here are more commonly Woods Nettles, and though edible, perhaps not the more culinary Stinging variety?

    I was hoping that someone might have some input, I have a huge bag of the stuff in the fridge (which I certainly “earned”), but I’ve been burned before on wild edibles and am now a little more shy!

    Looking forward to any advice from the community, and I hope you guys enjoy the link.

  16. Jeffrey Brown July 31st, 2012 3:29 pm

    For nettle stings make some mud and cover the affected area and let it dry. It must draw the irritant out as it always worked!

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