Handmade Tortellini is truly a labour of love but there is no better way to enjoy the fruits of your foraging labour. It takes a bit of preparation but the result is so rewarding.
Untamed Kootenays at Island Lake Lodge
This Spring I was invited out to Island Lake Lodge to take part in their second annual Untamed Kootenays culinary extravaganza. My husband and I stayed in a relaxing room overlooking one of the resort’s many hiking trails and surrounding mountains. The best part of our weekend away was the FOOD. Surprised? haha Well, it’s no surprise that I enjoy good food and wine but learning about wild edibles, foraging with chefs, and then seeing how they can be incorporated into dishes was truly an amazing experience. Here are some of the dishes that incorporated our forest finds:
Charred Summer Squash, Squash Skin and Herb Green Goddess Purée,
Poached Shrimp, Nasturtium, Foraged Buttercup and Clover
Dandelion Cake with Wild Strawberry Blossoms
Learning about foraging for wild edibles from chefs was a dream come true for me. When I was a kid on the farm I spent a lot of time outside. I would wander out past the garden and into the nearby woods or walk up the gravel road to the shady place up near our neighbour’s house. Wild strawberries grew along the side of the road and there was a green plant that I would pick and eat because it tasted like mint. In hindsight, I maybe shouldn’t have been eating plants without knowing if they were safe to eat or not. I was very lucky that I never became sick as a result. These days I’m really careful to go foraging and mushroom picking with people that are knowledgeable.
The Untamed Kootenays adventure left me so inspired to get cooking with my wild edible haul. This recipe is a bit labour intensive but isn’t the best food worth time and effort? The cool thing about it is that you can spread the preparation over a few days or get it done in one go. The Tortellini also freeze very well so you can make a large amount and enjoy them at a later time.
Preparing Stinging Nettle
The first step involves preparing the Stinging Nettle by soaking it in cold water for 6 hours. This helps to soften the nettle hairs and removes the formic acid from the plant, allowing them to be handled and eaten without incident (read more about Stinging Nettle). While the nettle is soaking, you can prepare the pasta dough then let it rest. If you prefer, you can just buy ready made pasta sheets as this will greatly reduce your work load. Whip up a batch of Ramp Pesto, cook up the ground chicken, and then it’s finally time to make the Tortellini filling. Assuming that 6 hours have passed, you can then blanch the nettle in boiling water. Remove all the moisture in the nettles but wrapping it in a clean dish towel and squeezing the water out. Add all of the ingredients to the bowl of a food processor and process until the desired consistency.
Other foraging adventures with Dish ‘n’ the Kitchen
Tortellini with Stinging Nettle, Ramps, and Chicken
Tortellini with Stinging Nettle, Ramp Pesto, and Chicken
- 4 cups fresh stinging nettle; soaked for 6 hours then blanched and dried
- 1/2 cup pecorino; finely grated
- 400 g ground chicken; cooked
- Salt and Pepper
- 1/4 cup Ramp Pesto recipe here
- 1 batch pasta dough
- 4 cups chicken broth
- handful of fresh basil
- fresh garden chives for garnish
- Begin by preparing the Stinging Nettle. Soak it in a tub of cold water for 6 hours then blanch it in a pot of salted boiling water for 5 minutes.
- Remove and plunge immediately into a bowl of ice water.
- Wrap in a clean tea towel and squeeze to remove excess moisture.
- Add Stinging Nettle, Pecorino, cooked chicken, ramp pesto (recipe here), and seasoning to the bowl of a large food processor.
- Process until you have reached your desired filling consistency. Divide filling into 1 inch balls.
- Set out one sheet of prepared pasta dough (while keeping the remaining sheets covered to prevent them from drying out) and cut it into squares that are 3x size of your ball of filling.
- Place filling in the centre of each square and using a round cutter of your preferred size, cut the dough into circular Tortellini bases.
- Lightly moisten the outer edges of the dough and fold the dough over the filling while at the same time making sure there is no air left around the filling.
- Seal well and fold ends over so that they meet together in a tidy little package. Repeat until all the filling is gone.
- Allow Tortellini to dry for an hour or so, then refrigerate or freeze.
- Heat Chicken Broth in a pot, then add the fresh basil and allow to steep for 5-10 minutes. Remove basil.
- Cook Tortellini in a large pot of salted boiling water for 7 minutes.
- To Serve: Portion Tortellini into bowls, pour 1/2 cup broth over all then garnish with chopped fresh chives.