Nettle gnudi with wild pesto
- Preparation and cooking time
- plus 4 hrs draining and 12-24 hrs chilling
- More effort
- Serves 4
These Italian dumplings are like light balls of ricotta gnocchi, or the filling for ravioli - use freshly foraged nettles for a simple sauce
- STEP 1
Line a sieve with a piece of muslin and set over a bowl. Tip in the ricotta, gather up the ends of the muslin and gently tie together. Leave to drain for 4 hrs or preferably overnight.
- STEP 2
Meanwhile, bring a pan of water to the boil. Blanch the nettle leaves quickly, then drain and chill under the cold tap. Thoroughly drain again, and squeeze out as much water from the leaves as you can, then very finely chop and chill until needed.
- STEP 3
To make the gnudi, transfer the strained ricotta to a large bowl. Beat a little, then add all but a few tbsp of the Parmesan, the egg yolks, nettles, a good grating of nutmeg and plenty of seasoning. Give it a good stir to combine. Tip the semolina into a large baking tray (it will need to fit in your fridge later). Wet your hands, dip them in the semolina and, working quickly, scoop 1 heaped tsp of the ricotta mixture into your hands and gently roll into a ball. Place the ball on the semolina tray and roll around so that it is completely coated. Pick it up and roll between the palms of your hands to create a smooth ball, then put back in the semolina. Continue with the rest of the mixture – you should have about 28 balls in total. Leaving the balls in the semolina, make sure that they are well spaced, then cover loosely with cling film. Chill for 12-24 hrs – the longer the better – until a skin has formed on the gnudi.
- STEP 4
To cook, bring a large pan of water to the boil. Meanwhile, spoon the pesto into a frying pan. Once the water is boiling, drop in batches of the gnudi and simmer for 2-3 mins or until they rise to the surface. Scoop out with a slotted spoon and transfer to a sieve. Repeat with the remaining gnudi. Heat the pesto in the pan with a few tbsp of the gnudi cooking water, to loosen it. Tip the cooked gnudi into the frying pan and gently turn the balls in the pesto. Divide between plates and scatter over the remaining Parmesan and a good grinding of black pepper before serving.
BARNEY'S FORAGING RULES
Take a pocket guidebook, and check it before picking anything. Make sure that it is legal to forage in a public area or that you have the landowner’s permission. Use all your senses to identify the plants you are looking for; it may look similar to wild garlic but if it doesn’t smell of garlic – don’t eat it! Never pick leaves next to busy roads or lanes, or low down, where dogs are regularly walked. If foraging for stinging nettles, wear gloves when picking and make sure to cook properly.