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Brown Butter & Nettle Ricotta Gnudi


1 hour (30 minutes hands on)

Those spikey plants that lurk in the hedgerows and sting your ankles have had a bad reputation, until now. The anti-inflammatory properties of nettles are said to help with joint pain and even relieve hay fever symptoms. Not only that, they taste incredible. We can think of no better way of exploring the sweet, herbal flavour of nettles than with this super simple Italian dumpling dish. Soft, pillowy nettle dumplings, oozing with ricotta and Parmesan, their name "gnudi" comes from the Italian term for nude, because these are essentially little balls of filling without the pasta case.

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Here's how you do it

You will need kitchen roll and a sheet of muslin

  1. To start, you want to remove any excess liquid from the ricotta. Lay out a sheet of muslin, drain the ricotta from it's liquid then place on the muslin cloth. Bring in the sides of the cloth to enclose the muslin and squeeze gently to strain any excess liquid. Now unwrap the ricotta and place on a plate still inside the cloth. Using a spatula, spread out the ricotta on the cloth. Cover with more kitchen roll and press down with your palms so that the kitchen roll sucks up the rest of the moisture from the ricotta. Leave to stand for 30 minutes while you prepare the nettles.

  2. Boil a kettle of water and blanch the nettles for two minutes (this will remove the stings). Using your hands, pick off and discard the tougher stalks from the nettles leaving just the leaves.

  3. Drain half the nettles on kitchen paper and leave aside until later. With the other half, squeeze out any moisture, then finely chop and place in a mixing bowl.

  4. Once the ricotta has strained, scrape from the kitchen paper into the mixing bowl with the egg yolks and Parmesan and season with salt and pepper.

  5. Pour the flour into the bowl and stir briefly until just combined (the trick to soft, delicate gnudi is to work the mixture as little as possible). The mixture should be soft and moist, with small lumps of ricotta visible. Tip onto a lightly floured surface then, using your palms, roll into a smooth sausage shape around the thickness of a £1 coin. Using a sharp knife, cut into 2cm long dumplings. Keep gnudi in the fridge until ready to serve.

  6. Bring a saucepan of salted water to the boil. In a frying pan, melt 25g of the butter on a medium heat. When the butter is foaming, add the leftover drained nettle leaves and fry for 30 seconds on both sides until crisp. Remove the nettles from the butter and drain on kitchen paper.

  7. Add the remaining butter to the frying pan and cook until foaming and the butter turns golden brown. Cook the dumplings in the boiling water for 4 minutes then remove with a slotted spoon and add straight to the brown butter (the salted cooking water from the gnudi will thicken the butter so a thin silky sauce).

  8. Divide the gnudi between bowls, pour over the brown butter and serve topped with crispy nettle leaves.


  • 500g ricotta
  • 50g nettle leaves
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 200g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 20g Parmesan, grated


  • 50g unsalted butter
  • Salt and pepper

Suitable for

  • Vegetarians

What’s in this recipe