Unhusband is Italian. Not just Italian, but Bolognese, which is apparently the cuisine capital of Italy (or so he claims.) So it’s a bit of a shame, not to mention a slight sticking point in our relationship, that I don’t really like pasta. Which is kind of like going to The Vatican and saying you don’t like the Pope.
I just find all that refined carbohydrate a bit well, bland. I’d rather just eat the sauce with some vegetables. Then there’s the blockage issue. I can barely last three days in Italy without resorting to Fibrogel. Yes, I know you can get wholewheat pasta, but try telling that to an Italian. They don’t even do brown bread.
There’s also the whole shape debate. Who cares if it’s a shell, or a spiral, or a frigging octopus. It’s still pasta, it all tastes the same. It’s like cutting your sandwiches into squares or triangles. They’re still sandwiches. Naturally, Unhusband disagrees.
Maintaining some kind of harmony in our relationship, requires that I do occasionally partake of pasta – especially when Unhusband makes it with his bare hands. His speciality is nettle pasta (yes, nettle!) with nettles from the allotment. Might as well make use of the weeds, I guess. And even though I’m not a pasta fanatic, I have to admit it’s pretty good. Certainly much better than the stuff out of packets.
So if you want to give it a try, here’s the recipe, with kind permission of Unhusband:
Carrier bag full of fresh nettles. Just the tops, and obviously, wear gloves!
4 eggs, the best you can find (this will serve four people, so just adjust accordingly)
400 grams plain flour (or Italian ‘00’ flour)
Pinch of salt
Wash the nettles thoroughly, then boil in a tiny bit of water for about 5 mins. Drain and squeeze out the excess water (the nettles won’t sting any longer.)
Put the flour on a work surface or in a bowl. Make a well in the centre and crack the eggs into it. Beat with a fork. Add the nettles then mix everything together, working with your fingertips until the mixture is combined. Knead the dough until it’s smooth and silky, not rough and floury. This takes a while.
Cover the dough with cling film and place in the fridge for 30 mins. Then roll out using a rolling pin or pasta machine.
Cook the pasta, then serve with your favourite sauce. We eat it with Unhusband’s ragu, made with pork mince, onion, red wine, olive oil, salt and pepper and simmered for a couple of hours, or more.