These nettle and ricotta gnocchi are a spring time treat. However, there is always the option of making extra to freeze for eating later in the year.
Havesting the young tips of nettles, just the top 4-6 leaf pairs, requires some patience because it seems to take an age to gather a carrier bag full, but it’s worth it. The other thing you will require is a pair of rubber gloves (we sell a tasteful line of pale blue fairtrade ones) unless you enjoy the tingling feeling in your finger tips for the next 24 hours (which apparently some hardened foragers do).
Apart from the foraged nettles, which you will have no trouble finding, we sell all the ingredients needed for this recipe.
- 1/2 to 1 carrier bag of young nettle tops (250-300g when cooked and squeezed dry)
- 50g butter
- 200g ricotta cheese
- 100g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
- 3 egg yolks
- 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- 15og grated Doddington or Parmesan
- sald and freshly ground black pepper
To prepare the nettles:
Wash the nettles. Place in a large saucepan with the water that is clinging to them, wilt over a medium heat for about 5 minutes, until tender. Leave until cool enough to handle, then squeeze as dry as you can. Weigh out 25o-300g of squeezed nettles. Chop them finely, put them in a bowl and mix in 50g of melted butter.
To prepare the gnocchi:
In a large bowl, lightly been the ricotta with a fork, then sift in the flour. Add the egg yolks, nutmeg, finely grated cheese and the cooled, buttered nettles. Mix thoroughly, but aim to have textured mixture with green specks, rather than a homogenised paste. Add seasoning if required. Chill the mixture for at least an hour, until stiff.
To make the gnocchi:
Lightly dust a baking tray with plain flour. Using 2 dessertspoons, mould the mixture into gnocchi: take a small amount in one spoon and then scrape it off with the other spoon. Repeat this a few times, passing the mixture between the two spoons. You soon get the knack of it and will be able to make little rugby ball shapes. The gnocchi should all be the same size, about 2cm in diameter. As you make each one, place it on the floured baking tray. At this stage they can be covered and left in the fridge for up to 24 hours. They can also be frozen.
To cook the gnocchi:
Bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil, then lower the heat to a simmer. Cook the gnocchi in batches. Gently place the gnocchi in the water in batches of 6 or 7 and cook gently for 5-6 minutes. They are ready when they float to the surface. Scoop out with a slotted spoon, drain and serve immediately with optional extra butter and cheese.
Recipe tried, tasted and approved by Madeleine at Alston Wholefoods