It may have a strange name, but Warrigal Greens Gnocchi with Black Garlic is a great way to showcase a lesser known ingredient with a unique taste.
I’ve been meaning to make something with warrigal greens for the blog for quite some time now, and seeing my stock of recipes had dried up since getting back from South Africa, it was time to get cooking again.
Warrigal greens a.k.a. New Zealand Spinach or tetragonia tetragonioides is a creeper that can be found near certain coastal areas of Australia, New Zealand and a few other Pacific nations.
A weed to some, and often eaten after Captain Cook spotted the green leaves growing on shore in 1769. Fresh, vitamin-rich food wasn’t all that abundant on the explorers ships during the long journeys – not that vitamins were known about back then – so little did they know that they were fighting off scurvy by eating the cooked warrigal greens.
I know you can buy it from certain providers, but I have of a few places near home where I can pick it safely, legally and responsibly. Most importantly, if you choose to forage yourself, make sure you know what you’re picking!
You can liken warrigal greens to spinach, but it must be blanched for 3 minutes before you eat it, to kill off the oxalic acid. Too easy.
I adore the fresh, green colour of the gnocchi I’ve made, and keeping it simple by tossing it in browned butter, black garlic and parmesan, the flavours aren’t over-complicated. The sweet, smokiness the black garlic brings is magical – love the stuff.
For a final adornment, I’ve used some leaves and flowers from native violet. Completely edible and rather pretty. And I love that my city council planted loads of them right in front of my house. Bonus!
- 150 g 5.3 Ounces warrigal greens, leaves only
- 2 eggs plus 1 egg yolk
- 300 g 10.6 Ounces nicola potatoes, skin on
- 165 g 5.8 Ounces plain flour, plus more for dusting
- 1½ tbsp Himalayan salt finely ground
- 80 g 2.8 Ounces butter
- 4-5 cloves black garlic finely sliced
- Black pepper freshly milled
- Parmigiano Reggiano finely shaved, to taste
- Micro herbs & edible flowers optional
- Rinse the warrigal greens well. Fill a large mixing bowl with cold water and add about 2 cups of ice cubes. Set aside.
- Bring a pot of water to the boil and blanch the greens for 3 minutes. Scoop the leaves from the pot and toss them into the bowl of iced water. This prevents them from cooking further and retains the green colour. Set aside.
- Place the potatoes in a bamboo steamer or steamer bowl and place it over the pot of water you just used to blanch the greens. Steam the potatoes for 20 -30 minutes, depending on their size. The potatoes will be ready when you can easily pierce it with a skewer, all the way to the centre. When done, remove from the heat and set aside.
- Drain the warrigal greens very well and squeeze all the water from them. Using a stick blender or processor, finely chop the greens until a thick paste forms. Add the eggs and egg yolk and pulse to combine. Set aside.
- While the potatoes are still hot enough to handle, remove the skin and discard it. Using a ricer – or I use a fine grater – grate the potatoes into a large mixing bowl. Mix in the warrigal greens paste. Don’t overmix.
- Sprinkle over the flour and salt and mix until it just comes together. Don’t over mix it. It should be soft but not sticky. Add tiny amounts of flour if it’s too sticky, but don’t overdo it.
- Line a board or large baking tray with baking paper. Set aside.
- Dust your work surface with flour and scoop out your gnocchi dough. Bring it together, scatter over a little flour then cut it into 4. Take one of the portions and gently roll it into a snake about the thickness of a thumb (2 cm). Cut it into dumplings every 2 centimetres. Repeat this process with the remaining dough.
- Place the gnocchi onto the lined tray, leaving a small gap to prevent them from sticking together.
- The gnocchi can be cooked immediately in boiling salted water. They’ll be ready in 2-3 minutes, when they float to the top and feel soft-yet-firm to the touch.
- Alternatively, cover the gnocchi dough with plastic and refrigerate for up to 3 days before cooking. You can also freeze them in dough form, then cook from frozen.
- To serve, place the butter in a large skillet or pan, toss in the black garlic and pepper and heat over a medium-high flame. Cook the butter until it starts to change colour. Do not burn it! You need to achieve a golden brown.
- As soon as the butter changes colour, toss in the cooked and drained gnocchi, tossing gently to coat in the butter and garlic.
- Season with salt then serve immediately. Garnish with shaved reggiano, herbs and flowers.
If you can't find Warrigal Greens, you can substitute any leafy greens (like Spinach!) for the amount of Warrigal Greens in the recipe
Warrigal Greens contain a small amount of oxalic acid that causes a metallic, bitter taste and can be harmful if ingested in great quantities. Blanch your Warrigal Greens for 3 - 4 minutes before cooking or consuming.
John Bek is a trained chef that decided to throw in his professional apron and move into retail management. He's the guy behind heneedsfood.com - a platform that showcases recipes that cover the likes of everyday cooking, use of native Australian ingredients, as well as Croatian creations that come from his heritage. John also writes about where he's travelled around the world as well as any farmers markets he's visited.