Monday, June 6, 2011

knuckles and sauce

I am not sure where I heard it originally, that gnocchi meant "little pillows", but I can tell you it has stuck in my mind. As I was preparing to post this recipe, I thought it might be best to verify my definition. I'm kind of glad that I did, because I don't think it really means little pillows...maybe to someones cute little Italian grandmother, but not to the dictionary. My research reveals that gnocchi probably means knuckle, joint, knot, or lump. It is also referred to as a dumpling. If you are not familiar with gnocchi, it is a pasta made from potatoes. It is in fact, a cute little pillow of yumminess. If prepared correctly, they are light and fluffy and completely irresistible.
Gnocchi is a fun kitchen project, that yields pretty awesome results....if you take your time and focus on the task at hand. If not, they can be heavy and chewy, and a big waste of time. If you like to play with play dough, this is the project for you. I have paired the gnocchi with a fresh and springy sauce that doesn't weight the dish down. And topped it off with oven crisped prosciutto and parmesan cheese.

Potato Gnocchi with Asparagus and Peas

3 pounds russet potatoes
2 cups flour, all purpose
1 egg
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon nutmeg

Peel the potatoes and wash them. In a heavy pan, boil the potatoes until tender. Drain and pass through a food mill or a potato ricer directly onto a cutting board or on the counter top. Sift the flour over the top of the potatoes. Make a hole in the center of the potatoes and add the egg, nutmeg, and the salt. Beat the egg with a fork in the center and then begin to mix it all together with your hands. Create a ball and then knead the ball for a few minutes or until the ball is dry to the touch.
Take a fistful of dough and roll it in to a long rope. Cut the rope into inch long pieces. Run the pieces over the back of a fork. Bring a pot of salted water and drop the gnocchi in. When the gnocchi floats to the top, cook it for an additional minute. In all, it takes about three minutes. Drain, and toss in an ice bath to cool it down and toss with a bit of oil, if they are not used immediately.

1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1 cup asparagus, diced
½ cup shallot, diced
1 1/2 cups frozen peas, thawed
5 slices prosciutto
Grated Parmesan
Salt and pepper
1 lemon zested
¼ cup parsley
1 cup ricotta
2 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons olive oil

On a baking sheet, lined with parchment paper, bake the prosciutto at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes. When cooked, set aside. In a heavy saucepan, melt the butter and olive oil together. Sauté the shallots until tender and translucent. Add the peas and the asparagus and toss with salt and pepper. Add the gnocchi to the pan as well as the parsley. Finally, toss with the ricotta and the lemon zest. Serve with a chip of prosciutto and parmesan.