When I think of spring produce I picture a verdant bounty: lettuce, greens, herbs, asparagus, peas. Add in some carrots and radishes and you’ve pretty much covered the bounty of the farmer’s market from April to June. The flavors are fresh, bright and clean, perfect for a salad or fragrant soup. Still, by June I’m desperate for something different and I was overjoyed by the first appearance of jewel toned cherry tomatoes. I bought them not because I had planned for them but because they were there and I desired them.
Spontaneous desire, whim, and excitement are some of my favorite things about cooking. I love buying ingredients that inspire me and figuring out what to do with them later. That’s not to say that I don’t love or use recipes, but I like to think of them as inspirations, not rules. The gnocchi I made was heavily influenced by Naturally Ella’s Spelt Gnocchi. I followed her measurements and instructions for the gnocchi itself to the letter. But Instead of peas and walnuts I used fresh tomatoes, oregano, and parmesan. I saved my peas and carrots for a delicate salad that I served alongside. If you’re interested in making both components, the salad recipe is at the the bottom of the post.
These gnocchi, like most pasta goes well with a variety of ingredients. Simply pick a vegetable, an herb and a cheese and you have dinner. I used cherry tomatoes + parmesan + oregano. Some other ideas…
zucchini + goat cheese + mint
asparagus + cheddar + chives
eggplant + smoked mozzarella + parsley
Combined, the two dishes told a story of transition between seasons, of brightness and richness. It was delicious, but instead of making it just the way I did I encourage you to bring a little of your own taste and available produce to the dish. Let me know how it turns out!
Choose Your Own Adventure Spelt Gnocchi
1, 16 oz. container of ricotta
1 large egg
1/2 cup (50 g) grated parmesan
1/4 teaspoon (1 g) salt
3/4 cup (108 g) spelt flour, plus extra for rolling
2 cups (1 pint) bite sized veggies (zucchini, tomatoes, asparagus, etc.)
2 tablespoons (30 ml) olive oil
2 cloves garlic, one minced, one thinly sliced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs (oregano, parsley, dill, basil)
1/2 cup (50 g) cheese (parmesan, goat, cheddar, etc.)
salt and pepper to taste
Drain the ricotta in a cheese cloth lined mesh strainer for an hour. Dump into a bowl and add egg, parmesan, salt and flour. Stir until it forms a ball, then cover and refrigerate for 15 minutes. Check consistency, it should feel tacky but not too sticky. Add a bit more flour if needed.
Heat oven to 400° F/205° C.
Pour dough onto a floured surface and use a bench scraper to cut into 8 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a 1/2” log. Cut the logs into 3/4” hunks with the scraper, transferring cut pieces to a floured baking sheet.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
Meanwhile, toss vegetables with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, the diced garlic clove, and some salt and pepper. Spread in an even layer on a baking sheet and cook in preheated oven for 10-20 minutes, checking and stirring every 5 minutes, until softened slightly with charred spots. Remove from oven and set aside.
Add gnocchi to boiling water and cook for 3 minutes.
While gnocchi are cooking, heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil, then the sliced garlic, then the gnocchi.
Brown gnocchi on all sides, then add vegetables, 1/2 the herbs and half the cheese. Turn off the heat and toss. If it seems dry, add a few spoonfuls of gnocchi water.
Serve garnished with remaining herbs and cheese.
Carrot Apple Salad
1 lb. carrots, peeled and shaved into ribbons
1 pint sugar snap peas
1/2 cup (75 g) english peas
1 apple, julienned
1 tablespoon (15 ml) honey
1 tablespoon (15 ml) sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon (5 ml) dijon mustard
3 tablespoons (45 ml) olive oil
1/2 teaspoon ( 4 g) salt
1/4 teaspoon (.5 g) freshly ground black pepper
basil leaves for garnish
Combine carrots, both types of peas, and apple in a medium bowl.
In a small bowl, whisk honey, vinegar, mustard, olive oil, salt and pepper together. Pour over salad. Top with basil leaves.