Whatever you call it, I think the process is coming to an end. The earlier mornings and longer days of late February have my head in a Spring state of mind. It’s time to try something new with Island Vittles.
I’m not quite ready to talk about exactly what I’ve been working on for the past couple of months. That’s mostly because I didn’t really do a lot until a couple of weeks ago, when inspiration struck.
Disparate ideas that have been floating around like noisy, free radicals between my ears finally coalesced in mid-February while picking my way amongst the driftwood on a stormy beach during a walk with the dog.
What a relief! I was getting a little scared that maybe my creativity had dried up. Typical writers’ angst, but still scary when it’s your first time.
Leaving new ideas and directions aside for a couple of more weeks, I still wanted to breathe a little life into this little blog, to make sure most of you are still there and hopefully ready for a new post.
I’m thrilled to have come out of my funk right at the start of Pender’s nettle season, because there’s no wild food I love more. Many call them weeds, but in reality, Stinging Nettles are one of nature’s most perfect foods. Higher in iron than any cultivated green and a mega source of a number of vitamins, nettles are food for your brain and blood.
For more Stinging Nettle recipes here on IV, check out this page.
: Pillowy soft potato pasta, vitaminized and coloured green with nettles, in a creamy blue cheese sauce.
- Russet Potatoes, scrubbed – 3.5 lbs (1.5 kg) (5 to 6 large)
- Nettle Tips, washed – 1 lb (500 g) – OR Spinach
- Egg Yolks – 4
- Water – ¼ to ½ Cup
- All-Purpose Flour – 2 Cups
- Salt – 2 tsp
- Pepper – 1 tsp
- Whipping Cream – 1 Cup
- Chicken Stock – 1 Cup
- Gorgonzola Cheese, crumbled – ¼ Cup (60 ml) or 2 oz (60 g)
- Preserved Lemon, minced – 1 tsp – OR Lemon Zest
- Cayenne Pepper – ¼ tsp
- s+p – to taste
- Preheat the oven to 400° F.
- Prick the potatoes with the point of a knife in 2-3 places. Bake until very tender, about 50-60 minutes.
- Meanwhile, blanch the nettles in boiling, salted water until tender, about 3-5 minutes. Shock in ice water until cool, then drain and dry by twisting in a clean dishtowel to wring out as much water as possible.
- Puree the nettles in a blender with ¼ cup of water. Use the extra water only if necessary to get the blender to puree.
- Alternatively, you can chop the nettles finely. I mean FINELY — it will take you at least 10 minutes of straight chopping to get to the point that I’m talking about. (You won’t need any water if you chop them.)
- When cool enough to handle, cut the potatoes in half lengthwise and scoop out the flesh into a large bowl. (Save the skins to make Potato Skins.) Use a masher or large fork to mash the potatoes. Or, if you have a food mill, run the potatoes through the medium plate.
- Add the remaining gnocchi ingredients, including the pureed nettles, to the bowl and mix until combined, but try not to over mix. The dough will be slightly sticky.
- To shape the gnocchi, cover your hands in flour, then roll a tennis-sized ball of dough into a log about the diameter of your thumb on a well-floured board. Cut into 1 inch pieces, then, if desired, roll down a fork to finish. I’m not even going to try to describe the action in words. Watch this video — it shows you how to do it much better than I could ever even try. (I didn’t bother rolling them down the fork because I was very short on time. They tasted every bit as good, I promise.)
- Repeat until all the dough is rolled and cut.
- Blanch the gnocchi in batches in boiling salted water (it should taste like the sea) until they float, about 2 minutes. Shock in ice water to cool quickly, then arrange on baking sheets and refrigerate until ready to eat. (see Notes)For the Sauce:
- Preheat the oven to 400° F.
- For the Sauce: Bring the cream and stock to a low boil in a small pan over medium heat. Cook until reduced enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 5-7 minutes. Add the cheese and lemon, stir until completely melted. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
- To finish: Divide the gnocchi into bowls or ramekins, then pour the sauce over. Top each with a few extra crumbles of cheese, and bake until brown and bubbly, about 10-15 minutes. Allow to cool for 5 minutes, then serve.
- No gorgonzola? Any blue cheese will do.
- The gnocchi can also be frozen after blanching on the baking sheets until firm, then stored in a sealed bag in the freezer for another day.
Preparation time: 1 hour(s) 30 minute(s)
Cooking time: 15 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 6
Culinary tradition: Italian
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