These morsels are absolutely sinful and pillowy. Beyond gnocchi, they are little love dumplings stuffed with protein and iron from cheese, eggs and stinging nettle. Best of all, for people who don't eat wheat, they can be made gluten-free with minimal sacrifice.
I originally posted a recipe for these sinpillows on my old blog but I think they have evolved into something much more nutritious and tasty.
STINGING NETTLE GNOCCHI
1 tub (about a pound) fresh ricotta
1/2 cup packed, grated parmesan cheese
1 1/3 cups flour*
2 tsp salt
1 large egg, beaten
1/2 cup blanched, chopped nettles - in the winter I usually have a store of pre-portioned, blanched nettles in my freezer
1 tsp lemon rind
1 green onion, minced
*I used unbleached white wheat flour but I think many kinds will do- simply substitute with 1 cup of GF blended flour if you're gluten intolerant OR 1 baked russet potato, grated)
To intensify the cheesey flavour and to enrich the texture of your gnocchi you may wish to drain your ricotta by hanging it in a cheese cloth overnight. I generally use full-fat Saputo ricotta and don't drain, but once in awhile I substitute with homemade ricotta and find it's more delicious when I get rid of the excess moisture. For a fool-proof, easier version just buy the full-fat Saputo ricotta.
Combine the ricotta, 1 cup of wheat flour (or 3/4 gluten free flour), parmesan, the beaten egg, salt, lemon rind, nettles, and green onion. Using your hands, mix until the dough forms a ball. Sprinkle the rest of the flour on a cutting board and knead the dough into it until it is no longer sticky. If you are using gluten-free flour it may still be a little sticky after it has absorbed all the flour; if this happens, give it 10 minutes to rest in the fridge before attempting to work it.
Divide the dough into small balls and roll into strips as shown in the first picture of the series above. Cut the strips into bite-sized pieces and press into a gnocchi board if desired (see picture). If you're ok with a more rustic look, simply cut into 1-inch pieces (it will still taste fucking delicious).
Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Gently drop the dumplings into the water and cook a total of 3 1/2 minutes. Portion as you like - two handfuls for a main dish suits me, but everyone has their own appetite ;-)
I like to fry my gnocchi in some butter before adding components for a sauce or medley. If you do this, the pasta gets a golden brown crust from the cheese caramelizing. However, if you like an gooey-gooey pillow-soft dumpling, simply boil and toss in butter and lemon.
For a rosé sauce you could add 1/4 cup of cream, some of the leftover water from boiling the gnocchi, a handful of parmesan cheese, and 1 tbsp of tomato sauce. For Alfredo, omit tomato sauce and add some fresh ground black pepper. Top with zesty green herbs like basil or chopped chives. I like to serve it with some bitter salad like my winter greens recipe to cut through the salt and dairy fat.