Nettle season is pretty much over but the memory of these delicious little mouthfuls will be with me for a long time. I look forward to next Spring but in the meantime, will try them with spinach, which is plentiful in the garden right now. Or arugula. Or a bunch of fresh green herbs. Or kale!! It’s a whole new world.
I’ve wanted to try making gnocchi or gnudi for awhile, but it seemed like a lot of work and unfamiliar territory. I’m really glad I got over it. Gnudi (made with ricotta cheese) are supposed to be less work than gnocchi (made with potatoes). I wouldn’t know, but I do know that this is a particularly simple recipe to follow that yields incredible results.
Pan frying these little nuggets in brown butter elevates them to art. I used summer savory because we have a mound of it in the herb garden; it over-winters well in the ground and is one of the first herbs ready to use for spring. It tastes like a combination of thyme and sage, but has a little bite that mellows out once it’s cooked.
Adapted from Fat of the Land
2 cups ricotta, strained overnight in cheesecloth
3/4 cup grated parmesan
1 cup blanched, squeezed, and chopped nettles
3/4 cup flour, plus more as needed and for rolling
1/8 tsp nutmeg, preferably freshly ground
Salt and pepper to taste
3 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp fresh savory, or thyme, or sage, chopped
1. Add ricotta to a large bowl with parmesan, eggs, nettles, nutmeg, and salt and pepper. Mix well.
2. Slowly fold in flour. Mixture should be damp and tacky without sticking to hands; keep adding a little more flour at a time until you can form a wet ball in your hand without it sticking to your skin.
3. Sprinkle work surface generously with flour. Take a handful of gnudi mixture and roll in flour until thoroughly coated. Roll it out into a snake a half-inch to one-inch diameter thick, whatever your preference.
4. Cut into little pillows and shape each one as desired. Or go rustic and leave them alone. Set aside on floured plate or cutting board.
5. Boil gnudi in batches in salted water. They’re done when they float to the surface, which should only take a minute. Use a slotted spoon to remove from boiling water and place on wax paper on a cookie sheet. Reserve until ready to pan fry. Or eat them just like this, or with your favorite sauce. Be careful though: It’s hard to stop popping them in your mouth once you start.
6. Make brown butter: Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Cover with a splatter guard or mesh strainer to avoid a mess from popping (butter has some water content, so it sometimes pops as it browns). Allow to cook undisturbed for 8-10 minutes, until it’s golden and smells like toffee. Keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn.
7. When butter has browned, add gnudi and savory in batches, leaving plenty of room between each nugget. Turn each one to brown all sides and let the savory crisp up a bit; it’s a texture and taste bomb.
8. Top with grated parmesan and serve with a fresh garden salad for a delightful spring meal.
Leftover boiled gnudi can be refrigerated for a few days.