Spaghetti pies are everywhere, it seems. . . as are nettles here in the soggy Pacific Northwest at the moment. It’s a spectacular combination.
Two of my favorite bloggers waxed poetic about this dish recently; Smitten Kitchen and David Lebovitz. I added lots of nettles, used less cheese, not because I don’t like cheese, but because I didn’t have quite enough and it seemed like plenty, and it turned out fabulously! I happened to have aged pecorino on hand and it does give the dish a splendid lift out of the ordinary but play around with the cheese and use what you have. I doubt you’ll have trouble consuming the pie and it keeps well, reheats well and is good cold, for breakfast . . .
Spaghetti Nettle Pie
–slightly adapted from Smittenkitchen.com
1 1/4 lbs nettles (no need to de-stem at this stage) or other leafy greens
1 lb spaghetti
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 1/4 cups whole milk
12 ounces cheese, I used 8 ounces pecorino romano and 4 ounces sharp cheddar–see headnote), grated
Preheat oven to 425 degrees
Butter a 9-inch spring form or a 10-inch cast iron pan. If using a spring form wrap the base of it tightly in aluminum foil as the milky egg mixture tends to leak a bit.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 1 tablespoon salt. Add the nettles (use gloves or a dish towel or something between your hands and the nettles!) and cook for about 90 seconds. Remove nettles with tongs or slotted spoon and drain well. Add the spaghetti to the boiling water and cook for 2 minutes shy of the stated cooking time.
When the nettles are cool enough to handle, and no need for gloves now (once blanched their sting is gone) squeeze out all the liquid you can. Feel free to reserve the liquid and drink it. Tasty and very nutritious! Now remove the coarse stems and discard those. Chop the leaves finely.
Beet the eggs and milk in a large bowl with the salt and pepper. Add the nettles and 3/4 of the cheeses and thoroughly combine. Add the drained spaghetti and mix well and put the mixture in the prepared pan and sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Bake for 35-40minutes until there is no more liquidy egg mixture and the top is nicely browned. Unmold and serve!