Naked Pasta: Wild Garlic Gnudi

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Wild Garlic Gnudi “dumplings”

Love gnocchi? Then try Wild Garlic Gnudi! Not only does this lesser known “naked pasta” take waaay less work, it’s high in protein (made with Ricotta cheese) and just bursting with vitamins, minerals and healing properties. And if you love the green oniony flavour of chives, scallions, and leeks like I do, then, Allium vineale, paired with a salty cheesy grating of Parmigiano Reggiano makes the satisfying comfort of pasta  – pretty guilt free.

Allium vineale, commonly know as Field or Crow Garlic, is one of the most plentiful and overlooked wild plants. Her fall bulbs are from the same genus (Allium) as garlic, shallots and onions, but it’s her fresh, vibrant oniony spring greens we’re focusing on here. And they can be used in any recipe that calls for scallions, chives or green onions or sprinkled fresh over salads, soups, vegetables, side dishes – I could go on.

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Herbalists consider Allium vineale a tonic plant, which means it’s packed with nutrients that help stimulate and cleanse (or tonify) our bodies and especially our digestive systems.  Studies have shown that Allium contains sulphur compounds (which give their oniony flavour) and can help reduce blood pressure, regulate blood sugar, even act as a prebiotic encouraging the growth of gut friendly bacteria!

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Image from Foraging & Feasting: A Field Guide and Wild Food Cookbook by Dina Falconi; illustrated by Wendy Hollender.www.botanicalartspress.com. Lots of recipes in this wonderful book for Field Garlic and other wild greens! 

And Allium vineale is everywhere. Originating from Europe and brought over by settlers, she is now growing wild from the west to the east coast, in lawns, fields, open woods and trailsides. But in spring she often difficult to see because she blends so easily into nearby greenery. But look closely and soon you’ll notice plants that look just like chives – tall, spindly, with dark to bluish green leaves.

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And you’ll know you’ve found her for sure as soon as you take a whiff, because you can’t mistake her oniony aroma. And like chives, Allium vineale can be identified as having a hollow leafy structure with a single hollow tube.

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Once you’ve located a patch, it’s just a matter of snipping off the greens with scissors and piling them into a basket. Once home you’ll go through your greens and discard any flat grasses or leaves that may have been accidentally picked in your harvest (some could be toxic). And you’re ready to begin.

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The rest is simple too. For this recipe you’ll need a tub of ricotta, one egg, cup of flour, pinch of salt and 1 cup of greens.  Traditional Gnudi recipes don’t even use flour, so if you want a gluten-free version there are plenty of recipes online. But if you go flourless you will have a wetter finickier dough that will be harder to work with. Be warned. 

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Left: Gnudi w/ flour & Ricotta cheese Right: No flour Gnudi with Cottage cheese

But either way you go, both are equally delicious although different in texture, the flourless cottage cheese gnudi being less dense and much lighter.

Whatever ingredients you choose, you will combine them into a simple dough, from which you will pinch off plump balls and roll into whatever shape you desire. These you boil for 7 minutes or so, then slather with a fresh tomato sauce, brown butter or nothing but a grating of cheese and sprinkling of pepper.

Heavenly flavour! Good Nutrition! Easy to make! Wild Garlic Gnudi is great.

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Wild Garlic Gnudi

Makes about 1 Dozen

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup chopped Wild Garlic Greens
  • 1 cup Ricotta Cheese (or Cottage cheese)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup of flour
  • sea salt (to taste)
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • four tablespoons butter (for browning)

Directions

  • Chop & mince your greens, the finer the better.
  • Combine with the Ricotta cheese, eggs, 3/4 cup of flour, pinch of salt and 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese.
  • Mix well and form into a dough. Knead and add rest of flour till it becomes a workable consistency. Don’t overwork.
  • Break off small clumps of dough, roll in flour and fashion into dumplings about 2 inches long and an inch wide.
  • Boil water, add some salt and a few drops of oil. Once boiling roundly drop in your Gnudi and let boil for about 7 – 10 minutes. Don’t overcrowd your gnudi as you boil!
  • Drain.  Place in a fry pan with butter & allow to brown up slightly.
  • Sprinkle with rest of grated cheese, some chopped greens – and serve!
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Left: Cottage Cheese Gnudi       Right: Ricotta Cheese Gnudi

P.S. I just fried the cottage cheese version straight up (skipping the boiling which made it even easier) and it tasted just like a “naked” perogy!

2 thoughts on “Naked Pasta: Wild Garlic Gnudi

    • I haven’t tried steamed – but I did fry up the cottage cheese gnudi like a perogy – and it was amazing. I think it might work steamed as well, but the heavier version using flour and ricotta might be a bit too doughy for steaming. It you try it let me know how it turns out!

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