This nettle gnocchi dish is served by chef Alessandro's Pavoni at the innovative Italian restaurant, Ormeggio, in Sydney.
- 100 g nettles
- Salt flakes
- 420 g russet or other floury potatoes, scrubbed
- Rock salt, as needed
- 90 g cornflour, sifted, plus extra for dusting and if needed
- pinch freshly grated nutmeg
- Fine salt
- 1 egg yolk
- 50 ml extra virgin olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, chopped
- 1 golden shallot, chopped
- 1 small ox heart tomato or large vine- ripened tomato, diced
- 16 basil leaves
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
1. Place the potatoes on a bed of rock salt on a baking tray and bake for 1-1 1/2 hours or until a wooden skewer can be inserted into a potato without any resistance.
2. Bring a large heavy-based saucepan of salted water to the boil. Add the nettles and boil for 5 minutes, then place in iced water to cool. Drain well, squeezing to remove as much moisture as possible; once they’re cooked they no longer sting. Transfer to a food processor and process for 5 minutes or until a very smooth puree forms, adding a little water if necessary to help it blend.
3. Transfer to a small heavy-based saucepan and cook over medium heat for 15-30 minutes or until it’s quite thick and most of the water has evaporated.
4. Meanwhile, to make the tomato sauce, heat the oil in a large heavy-based frying pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and shallot and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomato and cook for 2-3 minutes or until pulpy. Stir in the basil, reduce the heat to low and cook for another 10 minutes or until slightly thickened. Remove from the heat and set aside.
5. Remove the potatoes from the oven, cut in half and immediately press, flesh- side down, through a potato ricer, onto a clean, dry workbench lightly dusted with extra cornflour, spreading it out on the bench. Leave to cool for a few minutes.
6. Sprinkle the cornflour, 20g of the Grana, nutmeg and fine salt to taste over the top and place the egg yolk and nettle puree in the centre. Using a pastry scraper and your hands, work the mixture until the dough just comes together; don’t overwork it, add a little more cornflour if its too moist. Shape the dough into a 4cm-high brick, then cut lengthways into 2 cm-thick slices. Cut each slice into 2 cm-thick strips and roll gently with your hands to form logs. Cut the logs into 2cm-thick pieces. Reheat the sauce over medium heat.
7. Bring a large heavy-based saucepan of salted water to the boil. Add the gnocchi and cook for 1-2 minutes or until they rise to the surface. Scoop them up with a slotted spoon, drain well and add to the sauce.
Gently toss through the sauce, adding the remaining grana. Serve on a platter or divide among bowls.
This recipe was supplied by Alessandro Pavoni for Meat-Free Week 2019. The campaign runs from 23-29 September in support of Bowel Cancer Australia. See meatfreeweek.org for more details and to sign up.