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Stinging Nettle Olive Leaf Pasta with Olives, Anchovies and Capers

Stinging Nettle Foglie d’Ulivo with Olives, Anchovies, and Capers

Written by Adam Bradley


This lovely recipe was gleaned in part from Vincenzo Buonassisi’s vast compendium, The Pasta Codex. In terms of origin, it does have a bit of a cross-regional aspect.

Primarily Neopolitan, the ingredients suggest a classic puttanesca with anchovies, capers, and olives. The pasta shape however was chosen in honor of this month’s contest theme: foglie d’ulivo, orecchiette-like olive leaves made with seasonal stinging nettle. Like the shape, the choice of burrata as an accompaniment is more Pugliese in style, but I couldn’t resist.

The recipe is special to me because it represents in part a marriage of cross-cultural aspects, a playfulness with the heart of Italian traditions held close, but a respect for their unassailable nature. It represents hand-made, love-infused, beautiful food that I’m pleased to have the honor to make.

Stinging Nettle Foglie d’Ulivo with Olives, Anchovies, and Capers

Serves 2

Prep time: 3 hours
Cook time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

For the sauce:

3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup olive oil
6 anchovy fillets, chopped
2 Calabrian chili peppers in oil
1/2 cup finely minced Italian parsley
Kosher salt
2 tbsp capers
1/3 cup pitted/chopped Castelvetrano olives
1/2 cup minced fresh basil
1 burratini (mini burrata) per serving

For the pasta dough (adapted from Food52):

10 ounces fresh stinging nettles (after blanched and squeezed dry it will be about 5oz)
300 grams semolina rimacinata flour
75 milliliters warm water

Method

To make the foglie d’ulivo:

Using gloves to handle the nettles, add the greens to boiling salted water for about two minutes or until sufficiently soft. Drain and add immediately to a large bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Once cooled roughly chop and squeeze them completely dry.

Add the nettle greens and water to a food processor and puree until a uniform texture is reached. It should neither be runny nor too solid but more a semi-pulpy mixture that while structured, melts to the touch.

Create a well of flour on a clean counter, add greens to center and incorporate with a fork. Finish by collecting the shaggy mass together and kneading for 8-10 minutes. Once a cohesive ball forms, cover tightly with plastic wrap and let rest on the counter for 30 minutes.

To shape the pasta, cut off about a half-inch wide slice of the ball and roll it into a uniform rod. Cut into once 1.5-inch lengths. Roll a piece lightly between the palms so it becomes tapered and pointed on each end, while not becoming too thin or elongated. Using a flat knife (I used a ruler), drag the piece of dough towards you with medium pressure applied. Try to stop just before the edge of the dough closest to you. Unfurl the shape and it should resemble a leaf with upturned edges. Pinch the tips together if they are open.

To make the sauce:

Sauté the garlic in olive oil on medium-low until fragrant then add anchovies and chilis. Break them up with a wooden spoon. Stir in parsley and remove from heat.

Cook pasta in generously salted boiling water. Once al dente, return the anchovy mixture back to the same heat. Add the capers. Using a spider, transfer pasta to the mixture and combine. Remove from heat again then add basil and olives to add a fresh note.

Plate the pasta leaving a groove in the center of each plate. Add a burratini to each plate, drizzle with olive oil or chili oil if desired.

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