Naked Pasta: Wild Garlic Gnudi

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Wild Garlic Gnudi “Dumplings”

Love gnocchi? Then try Wild Garlic Gnudi! This oh so simple to make, lesser known “naked pasta” is just bursting with flavour, not to mention protein, vitamins, minerals and healing properties. And if you love the green, oniony taste 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 and dumplings – pretty guilt free.

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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 extremely tasty in any recipe that calls for scallions, chives or green onions. I love them sprinkled fresh over salads, soups, vegetables, savoury side dishes and dips – I could go on!

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Herb Curd! Combining yogurt & sour cream with chopped Allium vineale greens and a sprinkling of fresh spring herbs makes a lovely dip. I used it to dollop on a few gnudi dumplings!

Herbalists consider Allium vineale a tonic plant, which means it’s packed with nutrients that help stimulate and cleanse (or tonify) our bodies, 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 as Allium vineale thrives practically everywhere, she is considered an invasive plant. 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 is 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, plants or leaves that may have been accidentally included in your harvest (some could be toxic). And you’re ready to begin.

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For this recipe you’ll need a tub of ricotta, one egg, cup of flour, parmesan cheese, pinch of salt and 1 cup of chopped 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 or gluten-free you will have a wetter stickier dough that will be harder to work with. Be warned. 

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Left: Gnudi w/flour  Right: Gluten-free Gnudi with cottage cheese

But either way you go, both dumplings are equally delicious although different in texture – the flourless cottage cheese gnudi being less dense and much lighter. And to me it tastes just like a naked pierogi! You can lightly cook the greens before using them, but I’ve used them raw because I like the sharper flavour.

Whatever dumpling you decide to make, you will mix 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 or cream sauce. Or you could gently fry in browned butter, then add 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 full-fat Cottage cheese if you go gluten free)
  • 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 sea 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. Let sit 30 minutes or so.
  • 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, or a dollop or two of Herb Curd – and serve!
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Left: Gluten-free Cottage Cheese Gnudi       Right: Ricotta Cheese Gnudi w/flour

3 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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