Deep green nettle gnocchi are a great way to celebrate spring. Unlike typical gnocchi you're probably familiar with, these are a rustic, peasant gnocchi called malfatti that include no potatoes or flour.
Instead of potatoes and flour, these stinging nettle gnocchi are made with dry breadcrumbs, egg, and plenty of freshly grated parmesan cheese.
How to Make Nettle Gnocchi
The nettles are steamed, cooled, chopped, pureed in a food processor with eggs, then mixed with breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese. After the dough rests you roll them out like regular potato gnocchi.
Cook and serve the gnocchi with butter sage and parmesan, or a brown butter mint sauce as pictured below.
- Common stinging nettles have a rich oceanic flavor.
- Wood nettles (Laportea canadensis) will have a stronger taste I compare to apple blossoms.
Thanks to my friend Ellen Zachos who turned me onto a version of these in her book The Foragers Pantry.
Italian Bread and Stinging Nettle Gnocchi (Malfatti)
- 1 pot with steamer basket
- 1 Food processor
- 4 oz nettles (½ cup packed, cooked nettles)
- Pinch of kosher salt
- A few scrapes of fresh nutmeg to taste
- ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
- ¾ cup (scant 3 oz) fine dry breadcrumbs preferably sourdough (gluten free breadcrumbs are fine here too)
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1 large egg
- All purpose flour or equivalent for rolling the gnocchi
To serve as pictured
- 1 recipe nettle gnocchi
- 1 cup homemade tomato sauce
- 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1.5 Tablespoons spearmint, thinly sliced wild or cultivated
- ¼ cup dry white wine
- 3 Tablespoons grated parmigiano reggiano or your favorite parmesan cheese
- Prepare a pot for steaming. Wash and dry the nettles. Add the nettles to the pot and steam for 2-3 minutes.
- Remove the nettles and cool spread out on a tray. Roughly chop the nettles, then puree in a food processor with the eggs, cheese, nutmeg, and pinch of salt. Scrape the nettle mixture into a mixing bowl, add the breadcrumbs, mix well, cover and rest for an hour. The dough should be firm enough to shape, and not sticky, if it is, knead in some extra breadcrumbs.
- Separate the dough into 4 balls. With floured hands, roll the dough out into ½ inch logs. Cut the logs on the diagonal with a bench knife, lightly dust with flour and reserve on a baking sheet. From here the nettle gnocchi can be cooked or frozen until needed.
- To cook the gnocchi, bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the gnocchi and cook for 3-4 minutes until they float and are cooked throughout. When they float they will still need another couple minutes to cook through.
To serve as pictured
- Warm the tomato sauce, taste and adjust the seasoning if needed. Meanwhile, heat the butter in a frying pan on medium heat until it darkens and smells toasty. Add the mint, pinch of salt and pepper and cook for 20 seconds. Add the wine to the brown butter and turn off the heat.
- Cook 4 oz of gnocchi per person in a boiling saucepan of salted water for 4-5 minutes. They need to cook for a few minutes after they float to the surface. Transfer the gnocchi to the frying pan with a slotted spoon and toss with butter.
- Divide the tomato sauce between four small soup bowls. Divide the gnocchi evenly between them, spooning the excess butter over the top of each. Garnish with a chiffonade of mint if you have some and pass the parmesan.