Spring is upon us, and I love all the fresh greens in the markets! I love the abundance of asparagus, peas, and since the past 3 years I have seen wild garlic in the market. I grew up having fresh garlic in India, and the smell is absolutely intoxicating! Mom would use the fresh green garlic to make the green mixture for undhiyoo, which is a medley of around 7 vegetables, simply mixed and cooked with a green paste, no dried spices! All the flavor in the Undhiyoo comes from the green paste, which is essentially, cilantro, green garlic, coconut, lemon, sugar and salt! It is my absolute favorite vegetable, and one that I crave a lot! We sprinkle wild garlic or green garlic on the top as a garnish! This vegetable can be eaten by itself, or with hot pooris, and it is absolutely divine. I don’t know one person who does not love this vegetable.
With that in mind, I wanted to make a very simple spring inspired pasta, that is fresh, light, airy and signifies the essence of Spring with all the greens around at the farmer’s market. My friend has a meyer lemon tree, so I got some meyer lemons from her gorgeous tree! Those lemons are so fragrant and flavorful! And the skin is a beautiful vibrant yellow! I picked up asparagus, fresh peas, sugar snap peas, and wild garlic from the farmer’s market. The meyer lemon potato ricotta gnocchi is quite flavorful, and I also added nutmeg to it for a depth of flavor. Gnocchi is not hard to make, just a little bit tedious. The dough comes together very easily. Then it is rest time. Then comes dividing the dough into 8 pieces, and rolling each portion and cutting out the gnocchis into bite size pieces, and finally shaping each one of them which is the time consuming part. The best part is that you can freeze the gnocchi to eat it later too! It stays in the freezer for upto a month.
I made a really simple butter/olive oil sauce, so that you can enjoy the vegetables to the fullest, and get the pure, unadulterated taste rather than having some sauce doused in the gnocchi. I keep the vegetables ever so slightly crunchy, by first blanching the sugar snap peas and the asparagus, and then sauteeing it in a butter/olive oil mixture, along with salt and pepper. The garnishes are the most fun after assembling the sautéed vegetables, along with the gnocchi. For the garnishes, I used pea shoots, zested meyer lemon, freshly grated parm, and finely chopped green garlic! I cannot stress enough of how wonderful this dish is on the whole!
The best compliment that I could receive is, my kids not talking at all during the 5 minutes of eating(yea they ate it so fast!), and enjoying all the fresh spring vegetables, and telling me that “Mommy, you make the best food ever, better than a restaurant!”. I know that is not true, but a little praise ain’t hurt anyone 😉 and the feeling is wonderful and so fulfilling. And that is why I do what I do, spend hours in the kitchen to provide a good, healthy, nutritious meal, made with good ingredients for my family, so that they can enjoy their meals, and not simply eat something that I would not be happy with.
It is still cooler in the bay area, but it seems it may finally be warming up. These coming months are extremely busy with home, work, and school stuff that is going on. Spring break is coming up, and my father in law will be here to spend some time with us which is always wonderful! My kids love their grandpa, and enjoy with him a lot. He does spoil them as all grandparents should I think ;). We start our bathroom renovation as well, which is going to be very interesting and fun I think! Looking forward to it! It has been 11 years since we moved into this home, but we have not done any renovations, so this will be a nice change of scenery, to see something new and fresh in our home!
I have been a bit slow on the blogging front, mainly because life has gotten very busy with the kids and their daily activities and it is indeed hard to keep up! Hope you all are having a wonderful month of April.
Have a blessed week!
Meyer Lemon Potato Ricotta Gnocchi with Spring Vegetables
Black pepper to taste – I added 1 ½ tsp of freshly ground black pepper
¾ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 tbsp meyer lemon zest ( zest of 1 meyer lemon)
1 large egg
For the entire portion of gnocchi:
3 tbsp unsalted butter
3 tbsp olive oil
Extra olive oil for drizzle
¾ pound fresh asparagus(preferably thin stalks)
2-3 oz sugar snap peas
¼ cup of Fresh peas
2 stalks of fresh green garlic, ends cut, and chopped at an angle(use raw garlic pods ~2-3 if you do not have green garlic)
2-3 tbsp of chopped chives
3 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Red chilli flakes if desired
Freshly grated parmesan cheese or pecorino romano
Fresh ground black pepper
Chopped green garlic
Meyer Lemon Potato Ricotta Gnocchi:
Wash the potatoes, with the skin on. If the potatoes are large, you can cut them in half, so that they get cooked inside. In a large saucepan, add the potatoes. Add water to ensure that it covers the potatoes. Boil at medium-high heat, partially covered for about 30 minutes on the stove. Check with a knife, to ensure that the potato is soft enough. Switch off the gas and remove it from the stove. Let it completely cool. Remove the peel. You can use a grater, to grate the potato using the larger holes. Make sure that there are NO lumps at all in the potatoes, else the gnocchi will not turn out smooth.
In a large bowl, add in the grated potatoes, all purpose flour, ricotta, meyer lemon zest, salt, pepper, nutmeg, egg. Mix is all well together. You can add a bit more flour if you find that the dough is sticky. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes on the floured surface, until the dough is smooth and when you poke a finger in the dough, the indentation stays. Let the dough rest in the bowl, covered with a kitchen towel, for about 30 minutes.
Cut the dough into 8 equal portions. Have additional flour handy on the side. Use each portion to roll out the dough into about a ½ inch thick even rope. Use flour on your hands where necessary so that the dough does not stick to your hands. Cut the rope into ¾ inch to 1 inch pieces. I used a bench scraper to cut the dough, the process goes much faster but you could use a sharp knife too. Then using the outer side of a fork, roll each gnocchi over the fork with slight pressure, to create an indentation. The indentation helps to capture the sauces in the slight ridges. If you have a gnocchi wooden board, you can use that roll the gnocchi off the board to create the ridges which make it look pretty also!
I keep a baking tray, sprinkled with all purpose flour and move the done gnocchis onto the baking tray. Continue the process until all the gnocchis are made. This process takes a while – roughly about 45 minutes. You can actually freeze them in an air tight container, upto a month. Or portion them out into individual portions as well, in small containers and then freeze them.
To make the gnocchi:
In a medium saucepan, ¾ filled with water, and addition of about 3-4 tbsp of table salt, set the stove on medium-high heat. Let the water boil. Slowly add the gnocchi in small batches into the water. Let them boil until they start the rise to the top of the saucepan, then you know that the gnocchi is ready. It takes about 2-3 minutes for each batch to rise up. Gently remove the gnocchi from the saucepan and place it on a shallow plate. Do the same for the remaining gnocchi. Drizzle a bit of olive oil over each batch to keep them from drying.
Sauteeing vegetables, and the sauce and assembly:
Cut about 1 ½ inches of the ends of the asparagus stalks because they are a bit stringy to eat. Cut the asparagus, depending upon the length, into 3 pieces. Keep a medium bowl half filled with water and half filled with ice ready on the side.
In a medium saucepan, half filled with water, heat it on the stove, at high heat. When the water starts boiling, add in the asparagus and sugar snap peas for a minute. After a minute, remove it and immediately put it into the ice cold water to blanch. Let it stay in the ice cold water for a minute and then remove onto a plate covered with a paper towel. This process will stop the vegetables from cooking any further and at the same time keep it a bit crunchy.
In a medium saucepan, on medium heat on the stove, add in the butter and olive oil. Add in the asparagus and sugar snap peas, and half of the green garlic and saute for 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, and red chilli flakes if desired. Remove the veggies on the side on a plate.
In the same saucepan, on medium heat on the stove, add in the butter and olive oil. Add in the gnocchi and let it sautee for about 5-7 minutes. Let each gnocchi brown individually. Do not keep sauteeing it, else it will lose its texture. Let it saute well and then turn each gnocchi over.
Add in the peas and the other vegetables and mix it all together.
Portion out into 4-6 portions. Garnish with the remaining chopped green garlic, freshly grated parmesan cheese/pecorino romano, freshly grated black pepper and finely chopped chives and pea shoots. Serve with a chilled glass or rose’!