Gnocchi & Nettle Sauce

Introducing the supper to beat all suppers if you're after something cosy comforting and healthy to eat... The nettle thing I really wasn't sure about, until I tried them... and actually they are a brilliant addition to a simple pasta sauce, despite my having to look a bit odd foraging in the garden with rubber gloves on. The nettle leaves give the sauce something to cling to (as well as the pasta) and their nettle-ey flavour is really delicious with garlic, tomatoes, anchovies, parsley, basil, chervil, olive oil etc - ie all the things that go well with Italian stuff too. Try them once, and I promise you'll be a convert; after all - nettles are free as well as tasty...


  • 750g Potatoes
  • 250g Plain Flour
  • 1 Free Range Egg
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Semolina or Rice Flour (for dusting)

Nettle Sauce

  • 1 Small Onion
  • Very large bowl of Nettles
  • 4 – 6 Cloves Garlic
  • 2 or 3 Anchovies
  • Fresh Herbs – Parsley, Basil, Chervil, Chives
  • Splash of White Wine (or Vermouth, or Lemon)
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil

To make the Gnocchi

Scrub and boil the Potatoes (whole is best) until just cooked (but not soggy – which is important)

(Peel and) mash them when still hot (you can put them through a potato ricer if you have one)

Again, while still hot, add the Flour and Egg and mix by hand into a dough (quickly)

Roll out into long sausage and cut into pieces of Gnocchi

[Some people make fancy shapes with theirs, but I'm always running slightly late so mine tend to be fairly square...]

Sprinkle the Gnocchi with Semolina, or Rice Flour (or just Flour I reckon) and leave, maybe in the fridge, until you want to cook them

To cook the Gnocchi – put them into very boisterously boiling water (carefully!).  When they are cooked, they’ll bob up to the surface – and you can lift them out with a slotted spoon

I prefer to fry the Gnocchi a bit before serving them – it adds a slight crunch, and is not particularly unhealthy if you use good quality Olive Oil.  Put them into a hot pan with a little Oil and give them a few minutes on each side (letting a slight crust form before turning)

To make the Nettle Sauce

Finely dice a small Onion and chop or crush the Garlic

Pick your Stinging Nettles before they flower and preferably when they’re not 6 foot tall (ie younger!).  Most importantly pick them with rubber gloves on (they’ll definitely sting otherwise).  You only need the leaves – not the stalks

Wash them (still with rubber gloves on) and then put them in a bowl and cover with boiling water.  Drain after 30 seconds or so, and immediately put into ice or very cold water (so they keep their colour).  Leave the Nettle Leaves like this until you want to cook them, in which case drain them, squeeze all the liquid out (give them a really good squeeze – they won’t sting now!), and finely slice them

Wash and chop your Fresh Herbs

Heat a pan with some Olive Oil.  Add the chopped Onion for a few ( 5 ) minutes, until soft.  Then add the Garlic and Anchovies for a couple of minutes (to cook but not burn the Garlic, maybe 1 or 2 minutes?!)… Next, add the chopped Nettles (I added some ropey looking broccoli sprigs from the garden too), and a splash of Wine.  Stir over a reasonable heat until the alcohol has cooked off, and the sauce is fragrant

Add the Fresh Herbs just before serving the Sauce over the fried Gnocchi…  A Roasted Red Pepper or two (and / or Roasted Tomatoes) is a great addition to an already delicious and healthy supper

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