Stinging Nettle Gnocchi with Dolcelatte Sauce
Updated: Aug 26
Once you have cooked this recipe you are never going to look at a stinging nettle in the same way again. Admittedly, this recipe is an adaption of one of my wild food heroes recipes – Antonio Carluccio so I can't claim it as my own, but if you haven’t tried it please do as it makes the risk of a few stings pale into insignificance, oh and you get two treats at once, a bi-product of this recipe is nettle tea!
Why Nettle Gnocchi?
Nettle gnocchi is believed to have originated in parts of Europe, such as Italy and the Alpine regions, where nettles grow abundantly in the wild. Nettles were traditionally gathered in the spring when they are young and tender, as they are less fibrous and have a milder flavour at that time.
In many traditional recipes, the nettles are blanched or steamed to remove their stinging hairs and soften the leaves before they are incorporated into the gnocchi dough. The blanched nettles are then finely chopped or pureed and added to the dough mixture along with the usual ingredients like flour, eggs, and sometimes potatoes.
Using nettles in gnocchi not only adds a unique flavour but also imparts a vibrant green color to the dough. Nettle gnocchi is often served with a variety of sauces, such as butter and sage, creamy cheese, or tomato-based sauces. The earthy and slightly nutty taste of nettles pairs well with these sauces, creating a delicious and visually appealing dish.
While the use of nettles in gnocchi has historical roots, it has also gained popularity in modern cuisine as chefs and home cooks explore more sustainable and locally sourced ingredients. Nettles are highly nutritious, being rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, making them an appealing choice for those seeking alternative ingredients in their dishes.
What is Dolcelatte Sauce?
Dolcelatte sauce is a creamy Italian sauce typically made with Dolcelatte cheese, which is a soft and creamy blue cheese. The sauce is rich, velvety, and has a distinct tangy flavour from the blue cheese. It can be used as a topping or condiment for various dishes, such as pasta, grilled meats, or vegetables.
To make dolcelatte sauce, you would typically melt the Dolcelatte cheese in a saucepan over low heat, along with some butter or cream to create a smooth and creamy consistency. Other ingredients such as garlic, shallots, or white wine may be added to enhance the flavour. The sauce is usually seasoned with salt and pepper to taste.
Dolcelatte sauce can add a deliciously rich and savoury element to your dishes, particularly if you enjoy the flavor of blue cheese. It pairs well with pasta, gnocchi (as below), or risotto, and can also be used as a dip or spread for bread or crackers if you have left overs.
Stinging Nettle Gnocchi with Dolcelatte Sauce
250g stinging nettle leaves
700g potatoes (Floury)
200g plain flour
1 large egg
100g dolcelatte cheese
100ml milk (full fat)
55g unsalted butter
You should already have picked out your Stinging Nettle leaves making sure that you select only the best – the top four leaves of the plant are the tastiest and most tender, make sure that you go for the light green and freshest leaves. Give them a good wash then place them in boiling water for 10 minutes. This boiling is what destroys the sting! Once 10 minutes have passed drain the leaves and then squeeze out and remaining liquid from the leaves and set aside. The cooking fluid is nettle tea so you can have a brew now or store it in the fridge in an airtight container for a couple of days (try your nettle tea chilled with ice cubes, a slice of lemon and a sprig of mint).
Now peel and boil your potatoes in salted water until cooked then drain and mash, allow to cool down a little.
Meanwhile finely chop the nettles and put them in a bowl, add your beaten egg to the chopped nettles and mix. Now, season the egg mixture generously and grate in some Nutmeg and stir.
Turn out your mashed potato onto a clean work surface and then mix in the flour. Make a hole in the middle of the flour and potato mix and add the nettle and egg to flour and potatoes, gently kneed mixing all the time until a nice dough is formed and all of the liquid mix is combined with the solid.
Now, flour your surface and roll the dough into a long sausage about 2cm thick. Cut the sausage into 3cm sections (lengthways), continue until the whole sausage is cut up. Dust the sections again with flour and also flour a fork (a large curved fork is best). To shape the gnocchi take a section of the mix and roll the back of the fork along the sections so that you leave little ridges along each piece of gnocchi now repeat placing the fork rolled gnocchi onto a floured plate. Make sure that you do this in one quick movement, applying enough pressure to turn the gnocchi but gently enough not to push through them.
If your struggling to make gnocchi this way click the link for another method - How to make Gnocchi.
Dolcelatte is a blue cheese made from cow’s milk, it lends itself excellently to the cooked greens and melts beautifully to make the sauce. Oh, and the dolcelatte sauce is particularly easy to make! Simply place the butter in a pan and melt it over a low heat. Then cut up the dolcelatte cheese into cubes and add the cheese along with the milk in the pan. Heat the mix on a low heat until it is all melted and combined.. Such a simple sauce such wonderful flavour!
Have a separate saucepan of boiling salted water ready and then drop in the stinging nettle gnocchi, it won’t take long (literally seconds) until they start rising to the surface of the water, when this happens they are done. Drain and coat in the sauce immediately. Grate some parmesan over the top with a crack of blackpepper and serve on a warmed plate… Serves 4!
Sometimes I throw some toasted crushed Walnuts over the dish as a garnish too, I love it but some people aren’t keen so I’ll leave this one up to you!!
Sound delicious?? I told you, you will never look at a stinging nettle in the same way again!
Stinging Nettle Gnocchi with Dolcelatte Sauce.. Soooo good.
Get more ideas and inspiration for recipes by checking out our Wild Food Cookbooks page.