Nettle Cannelloni with Morels and Spring Herbs

To blanch the nettles, bring a large pot of water to a boil. In another pot, or large bowl, prepare an ice bath. Add a generous amount of salt to the boiling water and cook the nettles for 1-2 minutes. Remove and shock in the ice bath. Squeeze as much water as possible from the nettles with your hands, then wrap the nettles in a tea towel or cloth, and twist both ends like a candy wrapper, to expel the remaining water. You now have recipe-ready nettles; the prepared nettles can also be frozen and stored for later use.

By | May 16, 2018


Nettle Cannelloni with Morels and Spring Herbs Serves 6

2 pounds ricotta
1 cup finely chopped cooked nettles
2 egg yolks
1/3 cup grated Parmesan
handful of finely chopped spring herbs (e.g. chives, chervil, parsley, tarragon, thyme)
salt and pepper to taste

1 cup light vegetable stock (or chicken stock)
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound fresh morels, clean (using a brush or a damp paper towel)
½ cup unsalted butter
2 tablespoon white miso
chervil for garnish

In a bowl, combine all the ingredients for the filling and season with salt and pepper to taste. Reserve and refrigerate.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and prepare an cold water/ice bath in a separate bowl. Cook the cannelloni sheets for 1-2 minutes or until they are al dente. Remove the sheets and shock in the ice bath, remove immediately and pat dry with a tea towel.

Transfer the filling to a pastry bag fitted with a round tip — a large zip-top freezer bag with a cut in the bottom corner makes a great ersatz bag. Squeezing from the top of the bag, pipe logs of filling ¾ to 1 inch in diameter across the base of each pasta square; roll to form the cannelloni. Put the cannelloni in a roasting pan or baking dish, moisten with the stock and olive oil, cover with foil and place in a 375F oven for 10-12 minutes.

Put a large saucepan on medium heat. Add the morels to the dry pan, and allow them to release some of their liquid. Remove the mushrooms, reserve the liquid and return them to the pan with a few tablespoons of butter. Cook until slightly browned, one minute or so. Add the remaining butter to another saucepan on medium — medium-high heat. Allow the butter to foam while monitoring it closely. When small brown specks start to appear and the butter smells nutty, remove it from the heat. Whisk in the miso and the reserved morel liquid.

Serve three cannelloni per warmed plate. Divide the morels between the portions, spoon the brown butter sauce over and garnish with a few small sprigs of chervil.

Pasta Dough 
2 cups type 00 flour (a fine bread or pizza flour)
2 eggs
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup blanched nettles (replace with 6 egg yolks to make cannelloni)

To make tagliatelle, purée nettles in a food processor, adding one of the eggs, if needed, and blend until smooth. Place the flour in a mound on a clean work surface, make a well in the centre and add the egg(s) and salt. Next, add the nettle purée to the well. Using a fork, stir together the egg and nettle mixture, slowly incorporating flour from the outside edges of the well. Once incorporating more flour becomes too difficult to do with a fork, use your hands to gather the rest of the flour and begin to knead the dough. Knead the dough until you have a smooth uniform ball of dough — about 8-10 minutes. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for an hour.

To make cannelloni, follow the instructions above, using the 6 egg yolks in place of the nettle purée.

After the dough has been refrigerated, divide it in three pieces. Take one portion of dough (wrap the other two so they don’t dry out) and start rolling out the pasta.

Pasta maker: Run the dough through the thickest setting several times, folding the dough in half, or in three (like a letter) each time, until the dough develops a sheen. If ever the dough starts to stick, dust with flour and carry on. Run the dough through a few more times without folding it, then begin decreasing the setting on the machine, running the dough through each setting twice, until you reach the secondlowest setting. Cover the sheet to prevent drying and roll the remaining portions of dough using the same method. Cut each sheet in half and dust with flour. Run the sheets through the tagliatelle or fettuccine cutters, dusting the cut noodles with flour and forming them into loose nests or cut into 4-inch cannelloni squares.

By hand: Roll out each portion of dough into a large sheet with a rolling pin and dust heavily with flour. If needed, an additional egg yolk may be added to improve pliability. To make cannelloni, trim the dough sheet into 4-inch squares. To make tagliatelle, fold the dough sheet over on itself like an accordion, or roll it like a pinwheel. Cut into ½-inch noodles with a sharp knife.

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