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.
It’s Easter weekend, and while that immediately brings to mind thoughts of chocolate, it also, to me, symbolizes everything green. My chives are starting to poke up, and here in Vancouver, we have crocuses, daffodils, and even cherry blossoms. Spring is here. We made it through another long, dark, rainy winter, and that’s cause for celebration.
This risotto is packed with everything green and fresh and seasonal: asparagus, peas, leeks and parsley. It’s light and yummy.
Many people are afraid of risotto because it’s a lot of work. It’s not really that bad. I’m not a pro, and my version would probably get me eliminated off of Top Chef (then again, that’s par for the course), but I’ve been doing it long enough that I have my own method that works really well for me.
Spring Risotto with Asparagus and Peas
6 cups vegetable stock (I make my own, but I keep bouillon around in case I run out)
2 tbsp olive oil plus 1 tbsp butter
1/2 bunch of asparagus, cut on the diagonal in 1-2″ pieces
a handful of sugar snap peas, also cut on the diagonal (or substitute frozen shelled peas if you have them)
1 cup Arborio rice
1/2 cup white wine
2 tbsps–1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2-3 tbsps parsley or other green herb like basil or Italian parsley
cooked shrimp for garnish (leave off if you want it vegetarian)
In a small saucepan on the back of the stove, heat the stock to boiling, and then turn it down to a simmer. It’s important not to add cold stock to the risotto once it starts cooking.
Prepare the leek by topping and tailing it, and removing a couple of the outer leaves. Cut the leek length-wise down the centre, and wash between all the layers to get any dirt out. Then lay the leek, cut-side down on your cutting board, and cut it up.
In a medium saucepan, add the olive oil and butter to a low-to-medium heat, and allow the butter to melt. Add the leek, season, and stir for about five minutes, until it begins to soften.
Next, add the rice, stir, and allow the rice to all become coated with oil. Do this for about 3-5 minutes, then add the wine.
Using a soup ladle, pour a couple of ladle fulls of hot stock over your risotto. It should cover the rice. Stir well. You don’t have to constantly stir during this process, but do watch it carefully so that it doesn’t dry out. Whenever the stock boils down, add another ladle or two from your hot stock.
While your risotto is doing its thing, heat a small frying pan on high heat and add some olive oil. Quickly stir-fry the vegetables for a few minutes. You want them to be lightly caramelized, but not fully cooked. Err on the side of underdone, as they will get cooked a little more inside the risotto.
When all the stock is added, let it cook down again until it is a loose mixture. You want it to still be a little saucy, you don’t want it to be a porridge consistency. At this point, taste for seasoning and and adjust. Also, make sure that your rice cooked. Some people like theirs al dente, but I like mine cooked all the way through. If your rice is still a bit raw, you’ll need to add more stock.
Add in the vegetables, half of the cheese, and 1 tbsp of butter. Stir well, remove from heat, cover, and allow to sit on off of the heat for 3-5 minutes. Add the parsley and stir.
Spoon into dishes, garnish with shrimp (if desired) and a snow of freshly-grated Parmesan.