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Recipe provided by Alessandro Pavoni

Serves 4


100g nettles

Salt flakes

420g russet or other floury potatoes, scrubbed

Rock salt, as needed

90g cornflour, sifted, plus extra for dusting and if needed

1 pinch of freshly grated nutmeg 

Fine salt

1 egg yolk

Tomato Sauce

50ml extra virgin olive oil

1 clove garlic, chopped

1 golden shallot, chopped

1 small ox heart tomato or large vine- ripened tomato, diced

16 basil leaves


Bring a large heavy-based saucepan of salted water to boil. Add the nettles and boil for 5 minutes, then place in iced water to cool. Drain well, squeezing to remove as much moisture as possible, once they're cooked they no longer sting. Transfer to a food processor and process for 5 minutes or until a very smooth puree forms, adding a little water if necessary to help it blend. Transfer to a small heavy-based saucepan and cook over medium heat for 15-30 minutes or until it's quite thick and most of the water has evaporated.

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Place the potatoes on a bed of rock salt on a baking tray and bake for 1-1.5 hours or until a wooden skewer can be inserted into a potato without any resistance. 

Meanwhile, to make the tomato sauce, heat the oil in a large heavy-based frying pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and shallot and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomato and cook for 2-3 minutes or until pulpy. Stir in the basil, reduce the heat to low and cook for another 10 minutes or until slightly thickened. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Remove the potatoes from the oven, cut in half and immediately press, flesh-side down, through a potato ricer, on a clean, dry workbench lightly dusted with extra cornflour, spreading it out on the bench, Leave to cool for a few minutes.

Sprinkle cornflour, 20g of the Grana, nutmeg and fine salt to taste over the top and place the egg yolk and nettle puree in the centre. Using a pastry scraper and your hands, work the mixture until the dough just comes together; don't overwork it, add a little more cornflour if it's too moist. Shape the dough into a 4cm-high brick, then cut length ways into 2cm-thick slices. Cut each slice into 2cm-thick strips and roll gently with your hands to form logs. Cut the logs into 2cm-thick pieces. 

Reheat the sauce over medium heat.

Bring a large heave-based saucepan of salted water to boil. Add the gnocchi and cook for 1-2 minutes or until they rise to the surface. Scoop them up with a slotted spoon, drain well and add to the sauce. 

Gently toss through the sauce, adding the remaining Grana. Serve on a platter or divide among bowls.  


This recipe and more delicious recipes from Alessandro Pavoni can be found in: A Lombardian Cookbook.