Wild Garlic and Potato Gnocchi
The humblest of ingredients – flour, potatoes, egg – combine with a handful of wild garlic leaves to make these easy, delicious homemade Italian dumplings. You can serve them simply boiled and tossed in a sauce, but to savour the subtle, herbal flavour of wild garlic, sauté them in butter and just sprinkle with a little parmesan cheese.
The secret of light gnocchi is in the balance of the dough ingredients: try not to add too much water (with the blanched wild garlic leaves) or too much extra flour (when shaping). Also try to handle the dough as little as possible.
This is a good recipe to make in advance: boil the gnocchi, leave them to cool, and store them in the fridge until you want to eat. The brief frying in butter is sufficient to reheat them and takes only minutes.
- 800g potatoes, Desirée for preference
- 1 handful wild garlic leaves (approx 100g)
- 200g plain flour (use ‘00’ pasta flour if you have it)
- 1 egg yolk
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 50g butter
- Freshly grated parmesan, to serve
- Wild garlic flowers, to decorate
- Preheat the oven to 180˚C. Put the washed potatoes on a baking sheet and prick their skins here and there with a fork. Bake in the oven for about 1 hour, until completely tender.
- Meanwhile, put the wild garlic leaves into a bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave for two minutes then drain and rinse under cold water to preserve their colour. Drain the leaves and squeeze them tight in your hands to extract as much water as possible. Chop finely and set aside.
- When the potatoes are cooked and are still hot but cool enough to handle, scoop the flesh from the skins into a bowl. Mash well and add the chopped wild garlic leaves along with the flour and egg yolk. Season well with salt and pepper and work the mixture together with your hands. It will seem a little dry at first, but keep working patiently until you have a smooth dough. Shape into a ball and divide into four.
- Lightly flour your surface. Take one portion of dough and roll it into a even sausage, about 3cm in thickness. Flatten the sausage slightly and cut into 1.5cm slices. (The best way to do this without misshaping the dough is to use a very sharp knife and to cut with short to-and-fro movements.) Set the slices of dough – your gnocchi – on a plate. Repeat with the other 3 portions of dough.
- Bring a large pan of generously salted water to a rolling boil. Cook batches of the gnocchi in the boiling water – never put more than a single layer of dumplings into the pan at once. When you add them, they will sink to the bottom. Depending on their size, around 2–3 minutes later the gnocchi will rise to the surface and float there – this means they are cooked. Immediately lift out the cooked gnocchi with a slotted spoon and sit them on a clean tea towel. Cook all the dumplings in this way.
- When you are ready to serve, heat a quarter of the butter in a frying pan. When it foams, add a quarter of the gnocchi, laying them down on their cut side. Cook for about two minutes until golden, then turn them and cook the other side in the same way.
- Lift the fried gnocchi onto a warm plate and tip over the butter from the pan. Scatter with grated parmesan, grind over some pepper, and decorate with a garlic flower head, if you have. Repeat for the remaining three servings.
Recipe and photos by Otherwise for Wild Food UK