As every winter ends and spring begins I dream of the distinct nettle flavor. To me it signifies spring and all the green beauties that are about to come form the ground.
These delicate, pillowy and soft dumplings have a hint of nettle that marries really well with the young spring onion and the garlic/butter sauce. The onion flowers have a wonderful mild oniony flavor and bring the whole dish together, plus they make the plate really pretty!
—Iglika Petrova/Sprig of Thyme
For the Nettle Dumplings
nettle leaves, packed (use gloves when handing since it might sting you)
(2 cups) fresh ricotta cheese
plain flour, plus more for dusting
grated Parmesan cheese
For the Butter Sauce
long stems of young spring onion, thinly sliced, reserving the flowers (if you cant find the young onion use 4-5 scallions)
Bring 6 cups of salted water to a boil. Turn the heat off, add the nettle (handle with gloves so it doesn’t sting you) and let it sit for 5 minutes. Drain the nettle in a colander and let it sit for a few minutes to cool down slightly. Finely chop the nettle and add to a large mixing bowl together with all the dumpling ingredients. Mix well, taste and add more seasoning if needed.
Place the dusting flour in a bowl. Dust a large baking sheet generously. Using two spoons, dip them in the bowl with flour then with one of them scoop a heaping amount of the dumplings mixture and with the help of the other spoon slide the dumpling out on the dusted baking sheet. Repeat until no mixture is left.
Refrigerate the dumplings for 30 minutes so they harden and are easier to handle.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the dumplings in batches (about 2 bathes in my case) and gently cook for 5 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a plate.
Meanwhile, in a large non-stick pan add the butter, the garlic, the onions and a pinch of salt, sauté until the onion is soft and the garlic is slightly golden but not burned. Add the wine and cook for 10 more seconds. If you think that your pan will not fit all the dumplings, spoon half of the sauce in a bowl and reserve half of the dumplings. Add the dumplings to the pan and shake the pan slightly to cover the dumplings with the sauce but do not move them around with a spoon since they might fall apart. If the dumplings look dry, add a bit of the dumplings water. Cook for a minute and transfer to a serving plate. Repeat the process with the other half of the dumplings and sauce if you have reserved them. Top dumplings with the lemon rind, thyme, the reserved onion flowers (if using) and sprinkle with black pepper. Serve immediately.