Make Ahead

Nettle Tortellini in Brodo

May  9, 2011
2 Ratings
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

As an avid hiker, I've always thought of stinging nettles as a trail nuisance to be avoided at any cost. It's only recently that I realized how delicious they can be if handled carefully. Now, instead of seeing a pernicious weed, I see a beautiful -- and tasty! -- sign of spring. Apparently, nettles are actually great for you -- they're full of all kinds of vitamins and minerals. I've also read that nettle tea (which is basically what the "brodo" here is), helps with seasonal allergies. How smart is that? This plant emerges right when you need it the most!

To pick them yourself, make sure you wear clothing that covers you as much as possible and, most importantly, gloves. Or you can just do as I did in this case and buy a bag of them from the farmers' market. In either case, when you're handling them raw in the kitchen wear gloves and use tongs. Once they've been blanched, though, they're safe to handle. - vrunka —vrunka

Test Kitchen Notes

This beautiful dish is refreshing, delicate and cleansing; it was literally like eating that spring time smell of freshly cut grass! The mint is absolutely wonderful in the broth, but I thought the garlic covered the delicate taste of the nettle a bit too much; so next time I would use just a half to one clove. It's also nice with a grating of good Parmesan cheese on top, like for traditional Tortellini in Brodo. If you're serving it as a starter, it would easily serve 6. - Emiko —Emiko

What You'll Need
  • 3 cups fresh nettle leaves (packed fairly tightly, some stems are OK)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • black pepper and salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 ounces crumbled goat cheese
  • 30-40 round wonton wrappers
  • 6 cups chicken broth (or veggie broth or water)
  • fresh lemon juice
  • fresh mint leaves, shredded
  • good quality olive oil
  1. Wearing gloves, rinse your nettles well in a colander. Look for any stowaways or stray weeds.
  2. Bring about 3-4 quarts of water and salt to a boil. Using tongs, grab bunches of nettles and submerge them in the water. Blanch for about 20-30 seconds. Remove nettles and drain in a colander and reserve about 2 cups of the nettle cooking water (optional).
  3. Once they're cool enough to handle, squeeze out as much water as you can with your bare hands (you don't need gloves any more!). Add the nettles, pine nuts, garlic, salt and pepper and olive oil to a food processor and process until fairly smooth. Remove to a bowl and stir in goat cheese until it's fully incorporated and you don't see any white streaks.
  4. Set up a work space with your wonton wrappers, nettle filling and a little dish of water. Also have a baking sheet and a tea towel nearby so you can set your completed tortellini on the sheet and keep them covered with a towel while you work.
  5. Take one wonton wrapper and drop a scant teaspoon of the filling onto the center. Dab the edge of the circle with water. Fold the wrapper in half and you now have a semi-circle. Press your finger into the middle of the bottom of the semi-circle and bring the two corners together. Press firmly and look at that: tortellini! (Watch my tortellini folding demonstration here: Continue with the rest of the tortellini.
  6. In a large pot (4+ quarts) bring to boil the reserved nettle water and chicken broth (or water). Drop about half the tortellini in the water and cook at a low boil for about 5 minutes. You don't want them to get too crowded so you may have to work in smaller batches depending on how large your pot is. Remove tortellini and repeat with the remaining ones.
  7. Equally divide tortellini and broth among 4 bowls, top with a squeeze of fresh lemon, a sprinkling of shredded fresh mint leaves and a drizzle of very good olive oil. Buon appetito!

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Emiko
  • wssmom
  • SKK
  • aargersi
  • Midge
I love experimenting in the kitchen and learning new techniques.

9 Reviews

Emiko May 22, 2011
This dish was beautiful, I had never cooked with nettles before. I gathered a bag full of nettles from a friend's garden that they had saved from the lawn mower just for me and diligently went through all the steps. As I can't get wonton wrappers easily where I live (in Tuscany) my husband insisted on making fresh pasta for the tortellini, naturally! It turned out beautifully. Thanks for this, my husband is a big fan of tortellini in brodo (his favourite comfort food) and this was a refreshing, seasonal version.
wssmom May 9, 2011
This sounds amazing!
SKK May 9, 2011
I love nettles! Made some nettle pesto and will try this also. Note to new users of nettles - blanching then takes the sting out of the nettles. They must be blanched.
aargersi May 9, 2011
These sound wonderful, did not know you could eat nettles! I wonder if our big giant (mean :-) Texas bull nettles would work?
vrunka May 9, 2011
Hmmm... I'm not sure. I just googled "Texas bull nettles" and it looks like they're a different family from the nettles we have up here in the Pacific NW so I'm not sure if the leaves would be similarly edible. But the website I was just reading said that the seeds and tap root of the bull nettle are delicious!
Midge May 9, 2011
Sounds lovely. You've inspired to seek out nettles!
vrunka May 9, 2011
Have fun, Midge! Just be careful!
hardlikearmour May 9, 2011
This sounds delicious, vrunka! Did you get the nettles at the PSU farmer's market?
vrunka May 9, 2011
why, yes, indeed I did! There's so much good stuff there!