Friday, May 23, 2008

Recipe for Devil’s Club Gnocchi (or Spinach Gnocchi) with Gorgonzola Sauce

I’ve always played with my food and eaten with my fingers. As a child, these habits got me into trouble. As an adult, they led me into the kitchen; there’s no more satisfying way than cooking to play with your food.

My favorite kind of playing with food involves foraging. Rooting around outside to harvest tasty wild plants is, in itself, great entertainment. Being able to experiment with their unusual flavors in the kitchen is the bonus prize.

Devil's Club Leaf BudI wrote about the unique flavor of devil’s club, a wild plant growing primarily on the Pacific coast of the United States from Alaska to California, in this post:
How to Harvest Devil’s Club Shoots and Recipe for Sautéed Devil’s Club Shoots with Onions.

Yesterday, I played with devil’s club shoots. First, I made Devil’s Club Pesto (splendid and coming soon). Continuing the Italian theme, I made Devil’s Club Gnocchi with Gorgonzola Sauce, adapting a
Mario Batali recipe for a similarly sauced Spinach Gnocchi.

The result was even better than I’d expected, and my expectations were high. The fresh and slightly resiny flavor of devil’s club shoots was balanced perfectly by a deliciously creamy gorgonzola sauce. I’ll definitely make this again.

I also tried the Devil’s Club Gnocchi with a quick tomato sauce. This flavor combination didn’t work. Or maybe it’s just the gorgonzola sauce was so much better that the tomato-devil’s club combination paled in comparison.

For the 99% of my readers who don’t have access to devil’s club shoots, make the gnocchi with spinach. Or nettles. Or whatever flavorful green strikes your fancy.

Go ahead; play with your food.

Devil's Club GnocchiDevil’s Club Gnocchi with Gorgonzola Sauce
Serves 4

Adapted from
Molto Mario
After blanching the devil’s club shoots in salted, boiling water, squeeze out as much water from them as possible; this is easiest to do using a clean dish towel as a wringer. For how to gather, clean, and blanch devil's club shoots, go

2 cups cleaned, blanched, and wrung-out devil’s club shoots
1 pound potatoes
1 egg
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 – 1 cup all-purpose flour

Gorgonzola Sauce:
1 1/2 cups crumbled gorgonzola (6 ounces)
1/4 cup butter (2 ounces – 1/2 stick)
2 Tbsp. Pernod
1/2 tsp. Aleppo pepper (optional)
Finely ground black pepper
1/4 chopped parsley
1/4 cup chopped chives

Make the Gnocchi: Chop the devil’s club in a food processor (or with a knife) until it is very fine.

Cut the potatoes in large chunks and cook them in boiling salted water until tender. Peel the potatoes and put them through a food mill (or whip until very smooth).

Mix the devil’s club, potatoes, egg, and salt (don’t use a food processor). Stir in 3/4 cup flour. Dump the dough on a floured surface. Knead lightly, adding flour as necessary to prevent the dough from being sticky.

Divide the dough into 2” balls. Using your fingertips, roll out each ball on a floured surface into a long, 3/4” diameter, rope. Cut the rope into 3/4” pieces. To make ridged gnocchi, roll each piece of dough off the back of a fork, pressing lightly down as you roll. Put the finished gnocchi on a lightly floured surface, in a single layer.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

Put 1/3 of gnocchi in the boiling water. When they float, use a slotted spoon to remove them to a bowl of ice water. Cook the remaining 2 batches of gnocchi and put them in ice water. Drain well.

Make the Sauce: In a pan large enough to hold all the gnocchi, melt the gorgonzola and butter over medium heat. Stir in the Pernod, Aleppo pepper, and freshly ground black pepper and bring to a simmer. Cook until the liquid evaporates, 4 – 5 minutes. Add the gnocchi, and toss to distribute the sauce. Add the parsley and half the chives and toss again. Divide between 4 plates and sprinkle with the remaining chives. Serve immediately.

Spinach Gnocchi
Replace the devil’s club with 2 pounds fresh spinach (2 bunches) that have been washed, blanched, and wrung out. (Wash the spinach and remove the stems. Blanch in boiling salted water for 1 minute. Remove the spinach to a bowl of ice water. Drain and squeeze out as much water from the spinach as possible; this is easiest to do using a clean dish towel as a wringer.)
This is my entry for
Vegetables, Beautiful Vegetables 2008 hosted by Abby at Eat the Right Stuff.


Peter M said...

There we go again, both cooking up the same ingredients...this time blue cheese.

The possibilities with gnocchi are endless, now you've incorporated Devil's Club!

Anonymous said...

Devil's club, wow! The Pacific Northwest is wonderfully abundant. The gnocchi look delicious. Bradford Angier never included recipes like that!

test it comm said...

I have never had devil’s club before but gnocchi in gorgonzola sauce is really good.

Maria Verivaki said...

blue cheese is also one of my favorite non-Greek cheeses, as well as cheddar

Anonymous said...

i'm a huge fan of spinach and gnocchi so love the idea of this, especially with the foraged devil's club. thanks for saring it with vegetables, beautiful vegetables!

Anonymous said...

I have strong feelings for gnocchi and gorgonzola. This will be infinitely satisfying.

Mars said...
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Mike of Mike's Table said...

Gnocchi alone is impressive in my book, but doing something so unique? Very interesting and very impressive. It looks great!

Laurie Constantino said...

PeterM, I really loved your blue cheese salad but, then again, I can't ever get enough blue cheese.

LuLu, Bradford Angier was a trend setter. From everything I've read, Devil's Club grows in California too, so you better start studying up for next season!

Kevin, especially green gnocchi with gorgonzola sauce. Mmm - wish I hadn't eaten all the leftovers...

Maria, I feel exactly the same way!

Abby, you're so welcome! Thanks for visiting!

Panda, yes, there's something about the soft pillows of gorgonzola and intensely flavorful cheese that really go togeher well.

Thank you Mike!

Y said...

Devil's club.. wow.. didn't even know it existed until now. Those spiny bits look decidedly unfriendly though.

Langdon Cook said...

I knew there must be some use for the treacherous bramble that can sorely interrupt a pleasant bushwhack! Thanks for such a creative take on an otherwise argumentative green.

Joe Horn said...
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Anonymous said...
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