When we transitioned to a gluten- and casein-free diet about three years ago, one of the few gluten foods we really missed was matzoh ball soup. While my own version of matzoh ball soup isn’t as good as my mother’s, my kids think mine is the best (I love how that works), and I didn’t want to let that tradition die.
After trying various recipes found online, we discovered the Gluten-Free Potato Kneidlach recipe from Gluten-Free Bay. We love these as “matzoh” balls in soup, we love them as dumplings tossed with olive oil and sea salt, and I love them as pancakes (I’m still trying to convince the girls to try them that way; until then, there are more for me).
M has been asking for more nettle soup and for nettle dumplings. I attempted some gluten-free nettle pieorgies last night, but then I realized, as I was about to plunge them into the boiling water, that I was on the verge of a culinary failure that would ruin dinner. What was I thinking? There was no way the delicate dough was going to hold, it was only going to dissolve and leave me with an abundance of slimy dough-nettle foam. I changed course and steamed them, instead, and the girls both ate them and declared them good. But I knew better – They were, on the whole, disgusting.
As they were steaming, though, I had another sudden realization: I could just add some steamed nettles to our favorite potato kneidlach recipe, and we’d have M’s nettle dumplings.
That’s just what I made tonight, and this time, we all agreed that they were good. Dumplings aren’t the most photogenic food, so I’m going to spare you an image of them. I’ll just say that they taste much, much better than they look, tossed with olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt and black pepper to taste.
We have leftover batter which I will fry in a bit of hot grapeseed oil tomorrow, to make lovely golden-crusted puffy smooth nettle potato pancakes. UPDATE: I just had some potato nettle pancakes for lunch, with some fresh kimchi on the side…The nettles add a new element to the texture; these were almost like Yorkshire pudding, but with a sweet nettle flavor and that crispy potato smell.
I’ll save some nettles in the freezer for use in this recipe again, to make green matzoh balls for future soup. As my mother always reminds me, the important thing is that your matzoh balls must go from the boiling cooking water into hot broth; that is true for these, too. I’m not sure what happens if they go from cooking pot to cold broth, but I have learned to listen to my mother and I’ve never pushed this particular boundary.
To get my nettle-ized version of Gluten-Free Bay’s Gluten-Free Potato Kneidlach, here’s what you’ll want to add:
1 tightly packed or heaping cup of steamed nettle leaves and tender stems, pressed dry then pureed until smooth in a food processor. Steam the nettles for 3 minutes or so, and save both the steaming water and all liquid pressed from the cooked nettles to drink as tea (store this in your fridge).
Omit the dill. Grate a dusting of fresh nutmeg over the mixture, enough that you’ll get just the faintest hint of nutmeg fragrance and flavor, not so much that it will smack your tongue with bitterness.
Add an additional 3 Tb potato starch. Let the batter rest for a full hour in the fridge, then try pushing some off of a spoon – If it doesn’t form into a rough ball shape, but hugs the spoon in a sticky landslide, add 1 – 2 Tb more potato starch and let rest again. You want a batter that holds together when pushed into boiling water.
I cooked mine for 5 minutes in boiling water, and they were just right; they take a bit longer to rise to the top of the water than the potato-only version, so go by the clock, not by where the dumplings are in the water when timing how long to cook them.