Friday, May 2, 2014

Spring In A Bowl

I'm embarrassed to say it but I am proud of this dish.
For years I have shied away from homemade pasta. I'm not sure why. I make pie crusts and biscuits and breads but pasta seems out of reach. Maybe it's all that rolling. In any case, with a tub of beautiful sheep's milk ricotta nearing it's expiration date I pulled up a recipe I have been considering from Bon Appetit Magazine, Ricotta Gnocchi with Asparagus, Peas and Morels, boasting a technique for no knead gnocchi, little pillowy dumplings.
Now to be fair, across the internet and probably across Italy there seems to be debate as to what qualifies as gnocchi and what recipes should be classified as the gnoccho's (singular) Florentine cousin gnudi. Maybe this quick, wet dough with equal parts flour and parmesan cheese, and 4 parts fresh ricotta is more the naked ravioli filling described as gnudi than the more heavily floured potato dumplings we know as gnocchi. In any case these dumplings went together quickly and waited in the fridge until I was ready to cook them in simmering salted water. Pan fried in rich butter with peas and favas whatever you may call them, these little pillows made a special springtime dinner.
The recipe called for asparagus, morels and peas. Though asparagus are in season, oddly enough there was none at our local market which gave me the chance to improvise. Searching my brain for another springtime specialty I remembered the freezer bag full of fava beans waiting to be shelled. Perfect . . . and a great flavor combination with peas. Instead of morels I found beautiful local trumpet mushrooms which I sautéed with finely chopped red onion.
With the gnocchi cooked I followed the recipe's instructions tossing the dumplings, peas, favas, a splash of pasta cooking water and ample butter into the pan with the mushrooms and simmered until the vegetables were warmed through and creamy sauce coated the gnocchi. To complete our springtime dish I topped the warm dumplings with chopped chives, pea shoots, lemon zest, and a sprinkling of parmesan cheese.
No knead or not, I still can't believe I made them myself.

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