I recently bought a fabulous cookbook called Whole Larder Love: Grow, Gather, Hunt, Cook by Australian blogger Rohan Anderson and published by powerHouse Books. He’s a wonderfully adventurous cook with a brilliant life/food philosophy. He’s been described as a modern-day hunter-gatherer and he is just that. I love his style. I love his sense of humour and I love how (and what) he loves to cook. Next week I’m going to feature a couple more of his recipes, too. If Rohan Anderson can’t encourage us British campers to ditch the pub and do some campfire cooking, I don’t know who can.
Anyway, this is his Nettle Pappardelle, which makes great use of all those annoying nettles that seem to surround every campsite in this country! “Stinging nettle has long been sought after for its health benefits and obviously, edibility,” says Anderson. “It is slightly spinach-like in flavour and will knock the socks off the most dedicated carnivore. You will often find it in impoverished soil or under the shelter of large trees where the sheep take shelter. I carry a pair of rigger’s gloves and garbage bags in the truck just in case I discover a patch, because it’s gold and when it’s available it’s on the menu immediately.”
Here’s the what:
2 large handfuls of nettles
300g parpardelle, linguine or spaghetti
1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 cup pine nuts
Here’s the how:
Panfry the pine nuts in a glug of olive oil for a minutes until they turn slightly golden. Remove from the pan when toasted. Use tongs or gloves to place the nettles in a large pot. Boil it for a few minutes, and then pour out into a strainer. When the nettles have cooled down, squeeze out the excess liquid. (Don’t worry about getting stung as the toxins are destroyed in the boiling process. Just wear gloves while you’re picking it and keep the kids away!) In a mortar and pestle (unless you camp with a Philips cordless rechargeable hand blender or this Breville one. Seriously tempting, huh?), work the nettles, cheese and toasted pine nuts until you get a reasonably smooth consistency. Slowly add some olive oil to turn the mix into more of a sauce. Season to taste and serve with al dente pasta.
Try it with a squeeze of lemon and/or some dried chilli flakes. And, if you’re feeding loads of people, and chances are you might be, just double or triple everything!
Simple, fast, forager food. Who wouldn’t be proud of whipping this up at a campsite?