Adriana Gallo, Tortelli di Ortiche
For the dough
For the filling
*00 Flour or doppio zero can be found easily online and in some grocery stores, a common and reliable brand is Caputo, try not to use All Purpose flour if possible
Begin by blanching your nettles in boiling water being careful to use gloves with the nettles. Boil for 5 minutes and then remove and set aside to cool and drain. Once cool to the touch, squeeze out any remaining water. Then finely chop the nettles and set aside.
Take 70g of nettles and blend (blender or food processor would be best here) with the 3 eggs and olive oil until smooth (any chunks of nettles will disrupt the gluten formation of the dough).You are going to start by making a wide and shallow well, fountain, or fontana of the flour. Into the hole of the well, pour your nettle and egg mixture. Then using a fork or your fingers stir around the perimeter of the eggs to incorporate the flour bit by bit.
Once you have a thick sludge in the middle, incorporate the rest of the flour and knead thoroughly for 15-30 minutes until it is densely elastic and smooth but not tacky. It really does take a while. I find that sometimes the dough will stop accepting flour and you will have some left over. Don’t force it, if you need to leave flour and crumbs behind to keep the dough moist enough that is fine. Alternatively, if you find the dough to be too dry or crumbly, wet your hands occasionally as you knead to incorporate more. If it is too wet and sticky, sprinkle more flour on your surface and continue to knead the flour into your dough. Try to give it a chance to come together before adding any flour as gluten formation usually helps with stickiness. Then let it rest at room temperature for 30 minutes in plastic wrap or under a bowl. This resting period will allow the gluten to relax and the flour to fully hydrate.
While the dough is resting, make your filling. Mix the remaining nettles, ricotta, parmigiano reggiano, salt, and nutmeg together in a bowl and set aside.
Rolling and Shaping the dough
If you are rolling out by hand…
Use a rolling pin or a wooden dowel (or broom handle!). It should be VERY thin. Millimeters thin. The thickness of a cotton bed sheet. A nonna would probably tell you it needs to be thin enough to read the newspaper through. For stuffed pasta be sure to press any edges you double up to keep them from getting too thick. People often want to start with stuffed pasta but quickly find it can be hard to make them light and delicate without a very thin dough to start with. A machine is best for this but if you are persistent with rolling and strategic in what shape you choose, you can make it work.
If you are using a mechanized pasta roller…
Once the dough has rested, divide it into 3 or 4 pieces. Keep pieces covered until you start rolling them out to keep them moist. Beginning with one piece, flatten the dough into a rectangle that will fit in the pasta machine. Flour the machine rollers and the dough rectangle lightly and roll it through at the widest setting (usually that is labelled at #1) Then fold it in on itself to square off the edges and run it through again at the same wide setting. Then run it through the next smaller setting (without folding this time), and continue slowly decreasing until you reach the second to last or last setting.
Once the dough is rolled out, cut out even squares (maybe 2x2inches or a little larger, your call!) Plop a teaspoon of the filling on each square and fold the square in half into a triangle shape by joining opposite corners and pinching closed to seal. Place the tortelli on a floured plate or board as you work. To cook, boil them in heavily salted water for 2 minutes or until they float. Serve with sage simmered in olive oil or butter.
If you aren’t ready to eat them that day, freeze them on a tray and store them in a ziplock bag in your freezer. Boil them from frozen ( do not defrost) any time you want! Just give them an extra minute or two to cook.