It’s Monday again, so it’s time for me to send a meatless recipe your way. Today we’re are going upscale, easy upscale that is! Tonight’s dinner is Potato Gnocchi and Truffled Pea Puree. Gnocchi is one of those foods that everyone thinks are super hard to make, but between you and me they are super easy. These little pillows of goodness will get everyone talking; they simply melt in your mouth! Oh, and the pea puree is a snap to make; add a drizzle of truffle oil and you’ve elevated peas and potatoes into something that’s pretty spectacular!
Here’s what your going to need for the gnocchi (serves 4)
Basic Potato Gnocchi
I usually make this recipe as a half recipe. 1 1/2 pounds potatoes is the perfect amount for a hearty dinner for two. Don’t boil the potatoes, as some recipes call for, because it will add too much water and you will then need more flour which makes the gnocchi tough.
3 lb russet baking potatoes (buy organic if possible with potatoes — Read this if you doubt me!)
2 oz good quality Parmesan cheese (about 1/2 cup)
2 tbs chives (fresh chives are essential. If you don’t have fresh, just leave them out entirely.)
2 tsp salt
1 cup flour
To start, preheat your oven to 400. Wash the potatoes thoroughly, pierce skins and bake for about 1 hour, or until cooked and a knife easily slices into the potatoes. Cool the potatoes slightly (about five minutes) and then slice in half. Scoop out all the the potato and discard the skins. Run the potatoes through a food mill or ricer. If you don’t have one, you can use a potato masher, but mash well — very well! While the potato is still warm (but not hot) add the egg, flour, cheese, salt and chives. Knead together until a sticky dough forms.
Cut your dough into three parts. Lightly flour your work surface and roll each part into a long rope about 3/4 inch wide. Using a pastry cutter or knife, slice the gnocchi into 3/4 inch segments. Place the gnocchi on a lightly floured pan lined with wax paper or parchment and refrigerate until you are ready to start cooking. Try not to let the pieces touch each other and lightly dust the tops with a little more flour.
Now, here’s what you’ll need for the pea puree (serves 4):
Basic Pea Puree
2 cups frozen green peas
1/4 cup water
1 clove garlic
1 tsp Salt
1/4 cup Half & Half
2 Tablespoons Parmesan Cheese
Bring water, peas, garlic and salt to boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat and simmer for five minutes; do not drain off water. In a food processor or blender combine the pea mixture with the half & half and the cheese. Blend until moderately blended, but with some small chunks still in the puree (you don’t want it to be baby food). You can make this puree up to an hour or two ahead of time. When you reheat it for serving you may need to mix in another tablespoon or two of half & half to get a spreadable consistency.
To finish the dish you’ll need:
Truffle Oil (how much depends on how truffle-y you want your dinner)
More Parmesan Cheese for grating
Twenty minutes before serving, heat a large pot with salted water to a boil. While the water is boiling, reheat the pea puree. When the water has come to a rapid boil, drop the gnocchi into the water, being careful to make sure they stay individual not clumped together. Boil just until they float to the top of the water. With a skimmer or strainer, remove the gnocchi from the boiling water and divide between plates or pasta bowls.
Top the gnocchi with a large spoonful of the pea puree. Drizzle each plate with truffle oil (to taste) and grate Parmesan. Enjoy!
Now, here’s the play by play…
Scoop the potato into a food mill
The dough will be soft and sticky, but will hold together like bread dough.
Roll the dough out into a long rope before cutting into pillow shaped pieces.
Here are the gnocchi already cut and waiting to be boiled. Don’t get all frilly and try to put the silly scalloped shape on the gnocchi. It’s not necessary. Don’t believe me? Go to your local Italian restaurant and see if they are doing it to their house-made gnocchi — they aren’t!