Growing up I spent a lot of my summers at my Grandparent’s cabins on Leech Lake in Minnesota. It was there that I fell in love with the outdoors. Fishing, swimming, waterskiing, and running around in the woods. During the summer months up at the cabin we would always pick buckets full of raspberries and blackberries and would eat fresh fish that I would catch right out of the lake. It really was one of the best times of my life and now that I’m 44 years old, I would give almost anything to go back to those days. I only have fond memories of those times at the cabin. But if I had to pick one thing I didn’t like, it would be all the damned nettles.
There were stinging nettles everywhere up there. In the woods, down by lake, pretty much everywhere I was playing there were nettles. And I got into them all the time. My legs would burn like I’d set myself on fire. If you would have asked a ten year old version of me if he wanted to eat some nettles he probably would have run away from you screaming. Little did I know that they are perfectly edible and quite delicious.
2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
1/2 cup of water
5 oz. Of nettles, stems removed (Note a half ounce is roughly 3/4 cup)
2 eggs plus one additional yolk
10 oz. of potatoes boiled, peeled and riced. (it is very important to use a potato ricer for this to avoid clumps in your gnocchi)
1 cup of all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the board
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
2 additional tablespoons of butter for browning
Parmesan cheese and cooked bacon pieces for garnishing
- Wilt the nettles in 2 tablespoons of butter and the 1/4 cup of water over medium heat for 5-6 minutes. Then let stand in a colander to drain until cooled.
- Place the nettles and the eggs and additional yolk in a blender or food processor and blend until you have a green paste.
- When the potatoes are cooled add them to the green paste and add the flour, nutmeg and salt. Mix together with your hands until all the flour is incorporated. Add more flour 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough holds together but is not sticky.
- Dust your work surface with flour and then cut a small handful of dough off and roll it out into a log about a half inch in diameter. Then cut the gnocchi into bite sized pieces and set aside on a well-floured baking sheet.
- Bring a pot of water to a boil and salt the water liberally. Working in batches, cook the gnocchi for 3-4 minutes. You will know when they are done when they are all floating on top of the water.
- Remove the gnocchi from the water and drain, then melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large non-stick pan and toss the gnocchi in the butter. I like to cook them for 3-4 minutes in the butter so the gnocchi develop a nice brown crust on the outside. Sprinkle with grated parmesan and bacon pieces.
About the Chef: Jamie Carlson is a hunting, fishing and foraging enthusiast. He works as a registered nurse at the VA hospital in Minneapolis, Minnesota. In his spare time, he enjoys cooking and the great outdoors and when he can he loves to combine the two. Jamie enjoys sharing his knowledge with others, particularly those who are new to hunting, fishing and cooking in the great outdoors. Jamie serves on the Board for the Minnesota chapter of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers and is a contributing food writer for Modern Carnivore and other outdoor titles.