Nettle Gnocchi

The nice thing about nettles is that one never has too look very far to find them.  Woods, parks, river banks, pathways: they’re everywhere and, now that I’ve discovered they are very tasty indeed, that’s a really good thing.  The nasty thing about nettles, of course, is that they have a rather effective defense mechanism and having been no stranger to nettles stings as a child, I knew I had to be prepared for an afternoon’s picking.

Garbed in thick gardening gloves and several long-sleeved jumpers, I marched through the warm June afternoon to my chosen patch.  I had a thick plastic bag and a long handled pair of scissors.  Surely I’d be able to harvest some nettle leaves without any pain? 

Apparently not.  This evening I am nursing itchy red hands, arms and shins.  Protective clothing, it seems, is no match to the malice of the green stingers.  Their sticky little hooks managed to get under all of my layers, making what should have been a pleasant afternoon’s foraging into a rather uncomfortable experience.

Still, I got my revenge later in the day by dropping the offending leaves into a vat of boiling water before squeezing them dry and chopping them finely.  Let that be a warning to you, stingy plants!


The following recipe is my entry to Joanna’s One Local Summer event which is collecting recipes using local produce only.  This dish fits the bill.  Everything other than the salt and pepper is from the north of Scotland.

Nettle Gnocchi

650g floury potatoes

A shopping bag full of nettle leaves (When picking nettles, look for young plants with bright green leaves rather than the very dark mature plants. which can be very bitter.)

100g cheddar cheese, finely grated

Salt and pepper

2 egg yolks

100g plain flour

  • Steam potatoes until completely soft, cool slightly then pass through a potato ricer.
  • Add nettles to a large pan of boiling water and cook for 5 minutes.  Drain and squeeze out all the moisture from the leaves before chopping very, very finely. 
  • Mix together the potatoes, nettles, cheese, egg yolks and seasoning.  Gradually add the flour to the mixture and combine with your hands until a pliable dough has formed.
  • Roll into long 2cm wide sausages and cut into 3 cm pieces. 
  • Drop half a dozen or so of the gnocchi into rolling water and stir with a spoon to create a gnocchi whirlpool.  Boil gently until the gnocchi start to float.  Cook for 30 seconds more then remove from water and drain. 
  • I ate this drizzled with melted butter and sprinkled with chives. 

    28 thoughts on “Nettle Gnocchi

    1. Could you find any dock leaves near the nettle to take the itch away?

      When nettles have sprung up in my garden (it’s an inner city one so I figure the seeds must be in the cow manure I use) I blanched it and used it like spinach. Totally delicious 🙂

    2. Wendy, I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again.

      What you and camera can so with the Scottish landscape is truly breathtaking. You have a natural understanding of light.

      Yum. Hoping for nettles this year. Bookmarking this. Now.

    3. That sounds and looks delicious. I wouldn’t know a nettle if it hit me in the face (well, perhaps I would because I’d be in pain!) but have read many references about how they’re good to eat and drink (in tea).

    4. I hated nettles as a child but now I wish I could find some and extract some vengeance! (in the nicest yummiest most natural web of food way of course) – your gnocchi looks lovely and I would love to join you on a nettle hunting expedition

    5. FABULOUS – pics of course, and what a recipe – I do soup from nettles, this is inspired …

      And thanks for joining in One Local Summer … round-up later today


    6. Pia – I have vivid memories of being surrounded by nettles as a child and being too afraid to move!

      Another Outspoken Female – I totally forgot about the dock leaf technique. Will have to keep that in mind for next time. Cheers.

      Lucy – Gosh. Thank you. To be fair though, it is very pretty around here so it’s not too difficult to take nice pictures. 🙂 And, ouch. Hope your finger is healing!

      Christina – Thank you! Have popped some in the freezer so will no doubt be eating them again very soon.

      Little Miss Moi – I’m a big fan of nettle tea too. Haven’t tried it with fresh nettles though. May have to do so this week. Thanks for the idea!

      Johanna – And I’d love to take you along with me. The woods I picked the nettles in are just lovely right now. So lush and alive.

      Joanna – Thank you! Looking forward to that round up. 🙂

    7. Wendy,

      These looks stunning, we were discussing nettles the other day as I was sampling some homemade local nettle beer (it was excellent) and were wondering it it was too late in the year for tender nettles – obviously not!

      I love the use of the chive flowers in the garnish – so few people seem to use chives, let alone the flowers – roll on mine growing. Lovely photos!

    8. Hyppolyra – It is pretty late in the season but you can still find tender shoots in shady parts of the wood. The lack of sun keeps them small. 🙂

      Salena – A cross between spinach and rocket, I’d say.

      Megan – They’re not the easiest thing in the world to make but they’re worth it!

      Rosa – You truly understand. 😉

    9. A gnocchi whirlpool – you are so imaginative with your descriptions. Think I shall print off some pages and use them as exemplars with year 10! Oops – can’t do that due to copyright but maybe I could quote you. Great recipe Wendy.

    10. Margaret – Not sure about a hunter, but certainly a gatherer! 🙂

      Shona – I hereby give you permission to use whatever you please from these pages. 🙂 Does this mean you are teaching English again?

    11. Nicole – Thank you. And thank you! 🙂

      JennDZ – Only problem is that I can’t stand the store bought stuff nowadays. Once you start making your own, there’s no turning back.

    12. Ohhh i adore nettle gnocci! i’ve been feeding the baby nettles for a few months now to up her iron, its wondeful for that she loves them. your photos are brilliant and lovely writing, nice to find you via one local summer

    13. You were definitely a woman on a mission, Wendy! But, what a result. These gnocchi look gorgeous. I love the chive flower on top, very pretty 🙂

    14. I tried gnocchi once and never liked it, much to my Italian girlfriend’s disappointment.
      But that was a while ago and i’ve been wanting to make something with nettles. Never done it yet. This is the dish for Gnocchi 2 – The Return.
      First time i’ve seen this blog – the photography’s as beautiful as the food.

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