It’s been all about pasta lately. You see, I have a new stand mixer purchased after the one that my mum and dad gave us for a wedding present finally decided enough was enough after 35 years of constant use! In addition to purchasing the new mixer we also purchased some of the attachments to go with it – namely the pasta roller and the tagliatelle cutter – I was just a little excited!
I also have a new pasta tree, I used to hang my pasta on the handles of wooden spoons and rolling pins precariously balanced on objects around the kitchen, as it was rolled
and cut, but Gary got to work in his workshop and created a pasta tree for me. It has evolved over time, and now has more branches than it did originally, and given that the branches can be removed for storage, holes have been drilled in the base board so that they can be slotted into.
I had noticed that Fernglen Farms was selling stinging nettles! I have never worked with nettles, and to be frank, had never thought that I would venture there! You know what they say… never say never! I had a new book from the library, one that has since been returned (it has been re-booked so should return soon), and it talked of nettle pasta. My go-to pasta recipe is gluten free, one that I have used to make beetroot pasta with, so thought I might try to make this nettle pasta. With my delivery of nettles received, the next thing I needed to think about was the sauce!
Sitting on the shelf along with a multitude of other recipe books, I have the book “Salute! Food, Wine & Travel in Southern Italy”, that my sister, Jan, had given me for my birthday in 2001 – gosh that is 19 years ago!
I have cooked the Spaghetti alla carbonara (Spaghetti in the Style of the Coalminer) from this book for guests in the past and they declared it to be the best version ever! Decision made!
Gary walked into the kitchen and noticed the bacon… “Oooh, Bacon and Eggs”, he questioned! To which I quickly responded, “Well, you might say…”
I messaged my sisters with photos of my green nettle pasta, thinking they may think I had gone totally mad! Jan responded “Can you actually buy stinging nettles or are you joking.” and they both commented on how green and pretty it looked.
I set to work making the sauce with my home-cured bacon and some eggs from Myrtlebank Roaming Farms, just down the road. The notes in the recipe state not to use smoked bacon, but my bacon is double smoked (the recipe actually calls for pancetta), and frankly it was still delicious!
So, Gary got his bacon and eggs, and I’m not quite crazy – yet!
- 5 litres water
- 4 tablespoons salt
- 60 ml olive oil
- 150 g pancetta diced
- 2 cloves garlic crushed
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- 1/2 cup cup freshly grated pecorino romano
- 2 tablespoons cream optional
- sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 500 g good-quality spaghetti
Bring water and salt to a boil.
Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a saucepan, add pancetta and garlic and fry slowly over medium heat to remove fat from pancetta. Remove garlic from pan when browned.
While pancetta is rendering, combine eggs, half the cheese, cream, sea salt and pepper in a bowl.
Cook spaghetti until al dente. Drain well but do not rinse.
Transfer spaghetti to a serving bowl and add pancetta, with its oil, and egg-cheese mixture. Toss with remaining cheese and adjust seasoning 6. Finish with a generous amount of freshly ground pepper.
This is a quintessential Roman pasta dish that has gained popularity all over the world due to the friendliness' of its ingredients – pasta, eggs and bacon. However, don't be tempted to substitute smoked bacon for the pancetta; the result will be inferior. (Donovan, G, Donovan, K, Griffiths, S. (2000) Salute! Food, Wine & Travel in Southern Italy, Penguin Books Australia, p 9.)
Each person's serving should be liberally garnished with freshly ground black pepper in order to resemble the 'dust' of the coalmine. Donovan, G, Donovan, K, Griffiths, S. (2000) Salute! Food, Wine & Travel in Southern Italy, Penguin Books Australia, p 9.
I've used homemade stinging nettle tagliatelle in the images shown, and while they warn against using smoked bacon, I couldn't resist and used my home-cured bacon - it was yum!
Until next time