Gnocchi are among the classics of Italian cuisine. And the gnocchi recipes are just as diverse as Italy's regions. One recipe originates from the northern Italian Alps and the Apennines. The typical ingredient for these excellent stuffed gnocchi: wild mountain spinach.Jump to Recipe
Greetings from the mountains: Wild Spinach
Wild mountain spinach grows in Italy at around 2,000 m above sea level. The young leaves are collected from June until flowering. Their distinctive taste is reminiscent of spinach and is slightly bitter like endive. If you are travelling in Italy's mountains, you should definitely try it. Good King Henry is the English name for the wild vegetable that has fallen into oblivion. For centuries it provided shepherds and mountain dwellers with valuable vitamins and minerals. Today, wild spinach is on the red list of endangered species in Europe, even if connoisseurs sometimes find its characteristic goosefoot-shaped leaves in the valley.
Henry the Good
In Trentino-South Tyrol, the name of the wild spinach is comete, in Lombardy parüch and in the Apennines orapi. The botanical generic name is Bonus Henricus. Some associate him with King Henry IV, the Good, because he had a heart for the poor rural population and, according to legend, opened his garden to the hungry people. Here the name Henry the Good reflects the beneficial and healing effects of an entire plant family of wild herbs.
Genuine vegetarian cheese
The wild spinach goes well with primi piatti, in soups, side dishes, salads and wonderfully in stuffed gnocchi where its aroma is revealed in combination with ricotta and Grana cheese. Dairy products were also a staple food for many in Italy's mountain regions. While Parmesan is only produced in Emilia Romagna and Lombardy, the Grana cheese used in the recipe mainly comes from Veneto, Trentino-South Tyrol and Piedmont. Parmesan is made with animal rennet, while Grana cheese is made with vegetable or microbial rennet, which vegetarians are very happy about!
Stuffed gnocchi with wild spinach, ricotta and pumpkin seeds
- 1.5 kg potatoes, mealy
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 pinch salt
- some plain flour
- 200 g wild spinach, or fresh spinach leaves
- 30 g butter
- 140 g ricotta
- 2 tbs pumpkin seeds
- 1 egg
- 6 tbs Grana cheese, or Parmesan, grated
- 100 g butter
- sage leaves, to taste
- Grana cheese, grated
- For the gnocchi dough, cook the potatoes in steam or water until soft. Peel them while still warm, mash them with a potato masher on a floured work surface and add a little salt. Add the egg yolks and a generous pinch of nutmeg. Quickly work into a smooth dough with some flour. Do not use too much flour as otherwise the dough could become tough.
- For the filling, roast the pumpkin seeds in a coated pan without fat and chop finely. Blanch the spinach briefly in boiling water, squeeze it and chop with a chopping knife with a curved blade. Fry the spinach in butter until no more liquid escapes. In a bowl, mix the ricotta, grated Grana cheese, pumpkin seeds and the egg with the spinach.
- For the gnocchi, form small dumplings from the dough but not too small. Make a hole with your finger and fill it with the spinach-cheese mixture, preferably with a piping bag. Close the hole again with the dough. Let the gnocchi simmer in lightly boiling salted water for 3-5 minutes until they rise to the surface. The cooking time depends on the size of the gnocchi.
- Serve the stuffed gnocchi with melted sage butter and well-ripened Grana cheese. If you like rich food, fry a few strips of bacon in the butter.
Alternative with hazelnuts and caramelised grapes
An old recipe uses hazelnuts instead of pumpkin seeds in the filling. The preparation is the same as described above. Decorate with caramelised red grapes: for each 50 g of sugar heat 1 tablespoon of water and possibly some butter while stirring until the mass is browned - this is the time to carefully caramelise the grapes in it. Before you arrange the stuffed gnocchi and grapes on the plates, spread 1 tablespoon of hazelnut oil (or pumpkin seed oil for other fillings) on each plate: a spectacle of flavours and colours for connoisseurs.