Summer is truly here in Massachusetts and with it comes bountiful, fresh, local produce. I am lucky to have close friends who belong to a CSA/farm share and invite me to participate in their weekly “harvest” dinners utilizing this amazing summer produce! (I obviously contribute dessert) An added bonus of their CSA is that they are allowed to go out to the farm in western Massachusetts to pick seasonal fruits and vegetables. I was fortunate enough the other week to be invited along to “pick our own” peas and strawberries!
And by pick peas and strawberries I really mean that I ate at least 2 for every 1 I picked… (strawberry stained hands not pictured below)
Inspired by a recent gnocchi and pea dish at Sportello in Boston, I decided to emulate it with my freshly picked and shelled peas! I had never made gnocchi before but decided it couldn’t be that hard…turns out it is a littler harder than I expected, especially when you don’t have the right equipment.
I have long scoffed “uni-taskers” aka kitchen gadgets that only serve one purpose, such as a panini press,and similarly was skeptical about purchasing a potato ricer. Therefore I was excited to find a smitten kitchen recipe for gnocchi that said you could use a box grater instead to grate the potatoes. However, after making these once, I have now invested in a potato ricer! Hand grating potatoes for a double batch of gnocchi was quite time and energy consuming. I actually almost threw the grated potatoes out and purchased already made gnocchi because I feared my gooey hand grated potatoes would never turn into gnocchi. But I persevered and somehow, with the addition of eggs, a lot of flour, and a lot of elbow grease, made something that resembled and, more importantly, tasted like gnocchi! (Note: I ended up needing a lot more flour to get dough that was workable and not too sticky)
The gnocchi only take about 2 minutes to cook in boiling water and can be made a few hours ahead of time. Just lay the cooked gnocchi on a parchment lined baking sheet to stop the cooking process and keep at room temperature until ready to eat. Then add to your sauce for a few minutes to reheat before serving.
The soft, fluffy gnocchi paired perfectly with a light mushroom cream sauce and the fresh, just cooked peas for a burst of color and texture. The dish was then finished with a drizzle of truffle oil (optional but really makes the dish) and parmesan cheese. Strawberry and peach crisp with sweet corn ice cream rounded out the meal for a perfect summer harvest dinner!
Gnocchi with peas, mushrooms, and truffle oil
(serves about 4)
For the Gnocchi (from smitten kitchen):
2 pounds (905 grams) Russet potatoes (3 to 4)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon table salt
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups (156 to 190 grams) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting surface
For the sauce:
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more
10 oz of fresh mushrooms of a variety (crimini, oyster, shitake, etc.)
1/4 cup sherry, port, or medeira wine
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup shelled fresh peas (from about 1 pound pods) or frozen peas, thawed
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup reserved cooking liquid from gnocchi
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tbs. Chopped fresh chives
4 oz. finely grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
drizzle of truffle oil
For the gnocchi:
Heat your oven to 400 degrees. Bake potatoes for 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on size, until a thin knife can easily pierce through them.
Let the potatoes cool for 10 minutes after baking, then peel them with a knife or a peeler (PSA from your friendly burn surgeon: DO NOT BURN YOURSELF). Run the potatoes through a potato ricer or grate them on the large holes of a box grater (Based on my first experience I would recommend purchasing a potato ricer). Cool them to lukewarm, about another 10 minutes. Add the egg and salt, mixing to combine. Add 1/2 cup flour, and mix to combine. Add the next 1/2 cup flour, mixing again. Add 1/4 cup flour, and see if this is enough to form a dough that does not easily stick to your hands. If not, add the last 1/4 cup of flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough is soft but only a little sticky, and able to hold its shape enough to be rolled into a rope. Knead the dough together briefly, gently, on a counter, just for a minute. (You may need to add even more flour to get the right consistency as I did)
Divide the dough into quarters. Roll each piece into a long rope, about 3/4-inch thick. Cut each rope into 3/4-inch lengths. At this point, you can use a floured fork or a gnocchi board to give each piece the traditional ridges (this step is just for looks but is definitely not necessary and I skipped it). Place the gnocchi on a a parchment-lined tray.
[Do ahead: If you’d like to freeze gnocchi for later user, do so on this tray. Once they are frozen, drop them into a freezer bag until needed. No need to defrost before cooking them; it will just take a minute or two longer.]
Place the gnocchi, a quarter-batch at a time, into a pot of boiling well-salted water. Cook the gnocchi until they float — about 2 minutes — then drain but make sure to reserve at least 1/2 cup cooking liquid for the sauce.
For the sauce and final product:
Heat the 2 tbs of oil in a large pot or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Saute mushrooms until slightly softened, about 3-5 minutes. Add the wine and cook until reduced by half. Add the heavy cream and stir to combine.
Add the cooked gnocchi, peas, butter, and reserved cooking liquid and stir to combine. Cook for about 2 minutes until gnocchi is heated through. Salt and pepper to taste and then add chives, parmesan cheese, lemon zest and truffle oil.
Serve and top with additional parmesan if desired.