* Nettle Pesto Ravioli

Posted on September 14th, 2008 by Linda. Filed under Californian, Course, Cuisine, Entree, Nettle, Pasta, Ricotta, Vegetarian.

The stinging nettle is one of the tastiest veggies around. It has a robust aroma that is woody and mushroomy. Nettle has one of the highest protein content amongst green vegetables. Nettle is also one of those recherche items sure to impress your friends.

Nettle is a weed really, and you can find them in the fields if you just look. Don’t go picking them as its sting is quite painful. You need to protect your hands with a pair of rubber gloves when handling nettle. Hence, you will gladly pay for the $6/lb at the Ferry Building.

I grow my own nettle in my little urban “potager” on my balcony 271 ft above ground level (thanks Google Earth!). I took the washing liquid from a bunch of nettles I got from Star Route Farm and poured it onto a big pot of soil. Kept the soil moist and lo and behold, a few weeks later, tiny nettles began sprouting and they just grew and grew! Here’s a picture of my nettle “crop”. If you are planting nettles in the garden, do remember it’s pernicious and has a pretty potent sting, so you don’t want your dogs or toddler running into it!

Chef’s tip: Even tho its sting may intimidate you at first, just use a pair of tongs to handle it. Store-bought nettles are pretty sandy.  Rinse them in lots of water, shaking them with the tongs.  Nettle loses its sting when cooked even 1 minute in boiling water; its flavor is well worth the trouble!

1 lb ricotta
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup finely grated parmesan

32 pieces wonton skin squares
Some rice flour for dusting

1 lb nettle
2 tablespoons butter/ EVOO
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper

1/2 cup pine nuts, roasted
Parmesan wedge for grating

To make the ravioli filling (Omit if using store bought cheese ravioli like the picture in this post!)
1.    Mix together ricotta, lemon zest, salt and parmesan for the filling.
2.    To fold the ravioli, lay out wonton skin squares, 4 at a time. Brush edges with a water (just slightly damp). Place a teaspoon of filling in the center of each square and fold over to make a triangle shape, pressing edges to seal. Take the two corners along the long edge of the triangle and bring together to have both bottom sides meet (as if the raviolo is clapping with the back of its palms; the raviolo will look twisted) and press the tips to fuse together. Place finished raviolo on a baking tray dusted with rice flour. Repeat and set aside until pesto is done.
To make the nettle pesto:
3.    Rinse and wash nettles using rubber gloves and a pair of tongs. Drain and spin-dry with a salad spinner. Remove any large stems (they make great compost as they give out lots of nitrogen, no seeds nor flowers, though).
4.    Melt butter in a medium saucepot over medium high heat and add sliced garlic; sauté until golden brown. Add nettles, cover immediately to capture the aroma and cook until wilted, about 2 minutes. Add cream and salt, let the liquid reduce to half; about 1 minute. Taste. (Make sure nettles are cooked before you taste them; they loose their stinging qualities once cooked.)  Finish with some black pepper.
5.    Using a handheld blender, puree nettle until smooth. Keep warmed.
Cooking the ravioli:
6.    To cook the ravioli, bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Drop half the ravioli gently into the water, wait until all float to the top. Remove and drain. Repeat.
7.    Spoon the nettle pesto over the cooked ravioli. Sprinkle with pine nuts and serve with some grated parmesan.

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