Tag Archives: pasta

The Most Awesome Nettle Pesto

Last year Tiia had brought home a small bag of nettles and we decided to make pesto out of them. I have to say that I was a bit apprehensive at first since eating something that stings didn’t seem that appealing to me, but with some prep work nettles can be used in a lot of different dishes. The jar we had was gone in a week because it was so delicious! So this year I wanted to make a bigger batch.

If you want to pick some nettles take some thick rubber gloves with you, a pair of scissors and a plastic bag or basket. The best time to pick them is in spring when the plants are still small. If you go in the summertime and the nettles have grown more, just cut the upper 5-10 cm off. Shake them a bit to get rid of bugs. It doesn’t matter if the leaves a bit dirty, the nettles will be washed and boiled later.

e122

Depending on where you live you might come across the plant below. The white deadnettle (germ. weiße Taubnessel, finn. valkopeippi) looks similar to common nettles but doesn’t sting and despite the looks and name isn’t related to nettles.  I heard they can also be used in salads or cooked but I don’t have any personal experience with them and they aren’t used in this recipe.

e133

If you have picked a sufficient amount of the nettles you should wash them at home immediately with lots of cold water. I washed them four times to make sure all dirt and bugs were gone.

e156

Bring some water to boil at the same time and boil batch after batch for a few minutes before letting the excess water drip out in a big colander. After they’ve cooled down you can use a salad spinner to get rid of the remaining water.

Don’t pour away the water you boiled the nettles in! Cooled down it will make a great fertilizer for your plants.

e157

e163

Now the nettles are ready to be made into pesto. You can experiment with how much oil and parmesan you like. I found the pesto quite delicious when it’s not dripping with oil and doesn’t have too much parmesan. I picked around a kilo of nettles and it made a bit less than 2 l of pesto. Some will be stored in jars in the fridge or given away as a gift. I also froze a bit of the pesto for later.

Here is the recipe for a smaller amount:

Ingredients

250 g nettles (weigh the pre-washed nettles)
25 g parmesan (or nutritional yeast if you want a vegan pesto)
20 g sunflower seeds (or cashews)
100 ml extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves depending on size
sea salt
freshly ground pepper

Roast the sunflower seeds in a pan without oil until they are lightly coloured and grate the parmesan. Blend the nettles with the garlic and the seeds in a food processor by pouring in olive oil carefully. When everything is really smooth, add the cheese (or yeast flakes) and some salt and pepper. Taste the pesto and add more spices, garlic or oil if needed. If you want a vegan pesto but don’t want to use nutritional yeast I recommend using cashews in the recipe (increase the amount). They give a cheesier flavour to the pesto.

e167

e179

Store the pesto in jars in the fridge. Make sure it’s always covered with a bit of olive oil to keep it from getting mouldy and always use a clean spoon or knife. This way it will be kept fresh for several weeks. Enjoy with pasta, as a dip or on bread!

Stef

e212

Pasta Salad With Quinoa, Grapes & Feta

Yes, something salty for once! I admit that I could bake (or eat) cake all day but I also enjoy a nice salad. We make this one quite often since it’s so delicious and fast to prepare. Quinoa became one of my favourite ingredients for a lot of dishes like lentil dhal or veggie patties. Unfortunately it’s quite expensive in here.
But have a look at the recipe or lets say at the ingredients since I rarely measure things.

Ingredients
farfalle or other pasta
quinoa
a fresh chili
sunflower seeds
feta
grapes
lettuce of your choice

2women2cats: Pasta salad with feta, quinoa & grapes

Boil the pasta al dente and rinse under cold water. You can boil the quinoa at the same time in a second pot. It will take around 10 minutes. Also rinse the quinoa with cold water afterwards. Fry some sunflower seeds in a pan without oil until they get some colour. Let them cool down a bit on a plate. If you leave them in the hot pan they will burn easily.

2women2cats: Pasta salad with feta, quinoa & grapes

Wash and chop the lettuce. Take the seeds out of the chili and either chop it really small or leave it in rings. You might want to taste it before. If you got a mild one you can put the whole chili in but it really depends on how hot you like it and what kind of salad dressing you will use. I like to put a chili-lemon dressing over it and therefore leave the chili out of the salad.
Cut the grapes into halves and crumble the feta with your hands. Add the pasta, the quinoa and the sunflower seeds and mix everything up. You can use any kind of dressing you like. I usually use one of the following. They both will stay good for a while if you want to make a larger portion.

Lemon-chili dressing
juice of one lemon
olive oil
1 chili
garlic
salt & pepper
sugar

It’s best to prepare this dressing in a jar or something you can close, so it can be shaken before serving. Add olive oil to the juice according to taste. I always use a bit more oil than juice. Crush 2 garlic gloves into the jar and add chopped chili to it. Spice with salt, pepper and a little bit of sugar.
You can also fry the chili and the garlic in a little bit of oil before adding it to the dressing.

Stef’s cocktail dressing
mayo
tomato paste
soy sauce
garlic
pepper
water

Add a little bit of tomato paste (or ketchup) to the mayo and mix it up. It should be a light red. Then add some crushed garlic, soy sauce and pepper. Since the dressing will be quite thick, add some water until it’s thin enough and add more soy/pepper to taste.

Enjoy!

Stef

2women2cats: Pasta salad with feta, quinoa & grapes