Friday, September 20, 2013

Nettle and Mascarpone Pasta

Until my bike started having issues I was having a nice bike ride today on the path.  I passed the hops and autumn olives and rode on, past the nettles and the crabapples and some grapes.  Then my bike lost a small but apparently somewhat important screw and I had to go home.  Fortunately, the bike was ridable but I couldn't risk going further in case it suddenly wasn't.

On the way back, I stopped at the nettle patch and grabbed a bag full.  I'd planned ahead, with gardening gloves and scissors, but I still got stung on my wrist above the glove because the patch was pretty dense.  Then I rode on and stopped again at the black walnut tree and picked up a few more walnuts.  All told, I biked 12 miles.

Black Walnuts after roasting
While the new walnuts were drying, I cracked the other batch with a vise, pulled out the nutmeats and roasted them for 30 minutes at 200 degrees.  These are in the fridge in a little jar, and maybe I'll add them to my oatmeal.  Then I set to work making something with those nettles.  First I blanched them and left them in a strainer while I made a sauce.

Borrowing on this recipe for spinach and mascarpone cheese sauce, I substituted nettles for the spinach and shallot for the onion.  Here's the recipe, so I have it:

2/3 cup mascarpone cheese
1/3 cup milk
1 shallot, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
salt, pepper, a pinch of nutmeg
blanched nettles
1/4 cup parmesan cheese

Whisk the milk and mascarpone together.  Saute the garlic and shallot in 1 T. butter and 1 T. olive oil about a minute or two, until soft.  Add the nettles and the milk/cheese mixture and mix.  Let this boil and thicken for a minute or two.  Add salt and pepper to taste, and a pinch of nutmeg.  Add the parmesan.  Toss with pasta, serve with a little extra nutmeg on top.

I tossed thin spaghetti with the sauce and served with extra parmesan cheese.  Yum.  I think this might be my favorite form of nettles yet!

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