Truly one of my favourite things is creating dishes from fresh summer produce. It’s even better if I grew it myself!
I had a very small crop of peas this year, probably not enough to make this dish. But that’s okay. If it’s the offseason, just buy frozen peas. If you have them fresh, though… ohhhh man.
I think people are afraid of making gnocchi, because it seems like a lot of work. And it kind of is. I mean, it takes a bit of time. But you know what? It’s summer. What else are you going to do with your time?
Hang out! Chill out! Make a bit platter of green gnocchi. Tis the season.
2 large russet baking potatoes or 4 smaller
1 1/2 cups peas, fresh or frozen, divided
2 large eggs
1 tsp salt plus pepper to taste
2 cups flour
1/4 cup pesto (divided)
pea shoots to garnish (optional)
Cook the potatoes. If you have the time, bake them in the oven, naked, then allow to cool overnight. If you have less time, peel them, slice into chunks and boil them in salted water till tender.
Cook 1 cup of peas for a few minutes in some boiling, salted water, separately, and then drain and allow to cool.
After the potatoes have cooled a little, mash them or, ideally, put them through a ricer.
Add the potatoes, peas, eggs, 2 tbsp pesto, salt and pepper to the bowl of your food processor, and process until smooth.
Add 1 cup of flour, and continue to process, until the gnocchi forms a ball.
Turn the gnocchi dough out onto a floured surface and begin to add more flour, a little at a time, kneading as you go.
You may not need all the flour–continue to add until the dough is relatively smooth, and not too sticky.
Divide the dough into 4, and roll each circle out into a log, about 1 1/2″ in diameter.
Cut 2″ sections of the dough, using a butter knife or a bench scraper. Toss the gnocchi on a flour-dusted pan.
Boil a large pot of salted water, and drop the gnocchi one by one into the boiling water. When they float to the top, fish them out with a spider or a slotted spoon, and place to the side.
Once all the gnocchi are cooked, heat a large shallow pan over medium heat. Add some olive oil, and then toss in the gnocchi. Shallow-fry for 5 minutes or so, or until the gnocchi are starting to pick up some colour on the edges.
Toss in the remaining pesto and the remaining peas, and allow to heat through.
Serve on a large platter, garnished with pea shoots.
I’m about to let you in on a big secret. This, ladies and gentlemen, is my go-to dish when I want to impress someone. Usually, it’s early on in the relationship, we’ve gone out on a couple of dates, and we get to the “oh, hey, why don’t you come over and I’ll cook dinner for you” date. This is what I make. And there has always been another date.
Puttanseca has been around for a long, long time. As long, in fact, as the world’s oldest profession. According to legend, Puttanesca was the sauce that… uh, let’s call them “the ladies of the evening” of Naples would have slowly bubbling on the back of their stoves in brothels. The aroma of the sauce would attract customers, and provide the working ladies with a quick meal between customers.
Despite it’s chequered past, Puttanesca is a dinner made with a lot of love. Simple ingredients, Mediterranean-derived, married together for a long time. It’s a very simple sauce. I usually make mine in the slow cooker so I don’t have to fuss with it too much, and I prefer to serve it on wide noodles like tagliatelle.
There are a lot of people that get wigged out by anchovies. They’re little fish, they have bones, and they have a very strong, salty flavor. But a little anchovy, like fish sauce in a Thai dish, can really add another layer of flavor to the dish. You’ll find anchovies in the deli department, nearer to the cheeses, rather than with the rest of the canned fish. They need to be kept cold. Or, you can buy anchovy paste in a toothpaste tube for max convenience. If you like your sauce spicy, add a pinch or two of red pepper flakes.
Pasta a la Puttanesca
1 medium-large onion, finely chopped
5-6 cloves garlic, finely chopped (yeah, you want it garlicky. Who cares, you’ll only be kissing each other!)
1/4 cup of red wine
1 large can diced tomatoes, or whole tomatoes you crush with your hands
1/2-1 whole can of anchovies (you can chop them a little if you like, but they’ll melt into the sauce)
20 or so kalamata olives, pits removed
3-4 tbsp capers
2-3 tbsp Chopped, fresh green herbs: Italian parsley, oregano and/or basil
salt and pepper to taste (I like to really giver with the pepper in this recipe)
In a large, deep pot (like a dutch oven if you have it), heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and saute for 5-10 minutes, until they are soft. Add the garlic, stir well, and leave for 1-2 minutes. Deglaze the pan with wine.
Add the tomatoes, and season. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and let it all go for a while, stirring occasionally. I will sometimes do this step in the crock pot, depending on how much time I have. If you choose this method, I’d leave the mix in the crock pot on low for about 4 hours. If you are making it one the stovetop, let it simmer for 1/2-1 hour. You’ll know it’s done when everything in the sauce is pretty uniform, but with chunks of tomato and flecks of onion still visible. It will also be a darker red colour.
Now add the anchovies, olives, capers and fresh herbs. Stir well, and let it go for another half hour or so.
Taste and season. The olives and capers and anchovies are quite salty, so you don’t want to season it too much up front.
Serve over pasta, garnished with freshly-grated Parmesan and a few fresh, shopped green herbs. And get ready for the next date!