Wild Nettle Gnocchi

Wild Nettle Gnocchi
  • coursePrimo piatto
  • difficultyMedium
  • preparation time45 minutes

Celebrate the return of spring with these seasonal Tuscan gnocchi, which concentrate the earthy and nutty flavor of wild nettles, or ortiche in Italian, into bite-size dumplings that need no more than a little melted butter as a sauce.

While often served in Toscana, nettle dumplings are common throughout many regions inItaly. When wild nettles are available (generally in the spring and summer), the best place to find them is at a farmers’ market; they are not widely available at stores. Nettles are very prickly (they are also known as stinging nettles), so use gloves when handling them raw. Once they are blanched, the leaves are no longer prickly and can be handled with bare hands once cooled.

Wild Nettle Gnocchi
Recipe courtesy of Chef Jenn Louis, Pasta By Hand

Yield: 4 servings

5 ounces wild nettles, stemmed
2 eggs, plus 1 egg yolk
10 ounces russet or yukon gold potatoes
1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more as needed and for dusting
5 tablespoons unsalted butter (2-3 tablespoons melted)
½ cup water
1 tablespoon salt
Parmigiano Reggiano, for grating

In a large sauté pan, melt the 2 tablespoons of butter with the water over medium heat. Add the nettles and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Let them cool completely in the pan. Place the nettles in a kitchen towel, wring until dry, and finely chop them. In a blender, process the nettles, eggs, and egg yolk, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides of the blender bowl with a rubber spatula. Blend until the mixture forms a thick, cohesive paste.

In a medium pot, cover the potatoes with cold water. Bring the water to a simmer over medium-high heat and cook until the potatoes can be easily pierced with a skewer, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain the potatoes in a colander and set aside to cool.

When cool enough to handle, peel the potatoes and rice them into a large bowl. Add the nettle mixture and mix with a wooden spoon until combined. Add the flour and salt and knead with your hands until the dough comes together. The dough should be soft but not sticky. Add more flour 1 tablespoon at a time, as needed, to achieve this texture.

Dust ¼ cup of the flour on the work surface, then scrape the dough from the bowl directly on top of the flour. Sprinkle the top of the dough with an additional ¼ cup of the flour. This will help prevent the dough from being too sticky to roll.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and dust with flour. Cut off a chunk of dough about the width of two fingers and cover the rest with plastic wrap. On a lightly-floured work surface, use your hands to roll the chunk into a log about ½ inch in diameter. Do not incorporate too much more flour into the dough; add just enough so the dough does not stick to the surface. Cut the log into ½ to 1-inch pieces. Put the gnocchi on the prepared baking sheet and shape the remaining dough. Make sure that the gnocchi don’t touch, or they will stick together.

To store the gnocchi, refrigerate them on the baking sheet, covered with plastic wrap, for up to two days, or freeze on the baking sheet and transfer to an airtight container. Use within one month. Do not thaw before cooking.

To cook the gnocchi, bring a large pot filled with generously-salted water to a simmer over medium-high heat. Add the gnocchi and simmer until they float to the surface, 1 to 3 minutes. Remove immediately with a slotted spoon to a serving platter or four individual bowls. Drizzle with the melted butter and top with grated Parmigiano Reggiano. Serve right away.

Buon appetito!

fresh pasta dough