This afternoon was my first class teaching this semester. It went well, so I came home, energized for some cooking experimentation. Yesterday afternoon I stopped by to see Michael and Laura. They had picked some fresh stinging nettles for me, and I was happy to share a bottle of Villa Creek Willow Creek Cuvée with them, so it was a very fair deal. Last night I picked off the leaves (wearing rubber gloves, of course) and boiled them, saving the liquid for nettle tea and putting the leaves in the refrigerator overnight.
In my research last night, I found a recipe for Nettle Gnudi, sort of an inside-out ravioli, reminiscent of one of my favorite dishes of all time, Anna Klinger’s Malfatti. So this evening I adapted the Gnudi recipe for a vegan, substituting my homemade cashew cheese for the ricotta, and using Anna’s technique of swirling the dumpling with flour in a small wine glass. Here is the result, on a plate, with a bit of Pesto Rosso from a jar — tomatoes, basil, pine nuts, and olive oil. Molto bene!
The process was pretty easy. I put the pre-cooked nettles in a small food processor bowl, and chopped fine, with salt and some garlic powder. Then I added enough of the cashew cheese to make a slightly damp mixture. I added about 3/4 cup of all-purpose flour and mixed it so some of the moisture was absorbed, then I scooped out a heaping tablespoon of the mixture, and dumped it in a small white wine glass with a teaspoon of flour. Rotating the glass rapidly in my hand formed a fairly firm dumpling, which I dropped carefully on a plate and repeated the process.
I brought a small saucepan full of water to a simmer, salted it well, and poached the dumplings in the water for about 3-4 minutes. They start to float in a minute or two, and the additional few minutes seem to cook them sufficiently. I removed them from the saucepan and placed in a small skillet with some sauce — I used the Pesto Rosso, but any of a number of sauces will work well, simple tomato sauce, olive oil and/or butter with fried sage leaves, etc. Finally, after sautéing for a few minutes to color the Gnudi lightly, I served then with some pan-roasted parsnips I had prepared the night before, when rescuing a wilting and lonesome parsnip from an ignominious fate. Serve with a bottle of Coda di Volpe, a stunning, unctuous Campanian white wine made from the grape of the same name. Another find from my guide Marc Etlin, now stocked in my local general store. Even better is the fact that it is very reasonably priced to boot.