I haven’t really had much time for gnocchi in the past, as it tends to be one of those dishes that gets thrust upon me in restaurants. Squidgy gummy potatoes laden with blue cheese sauce? Er, no thank you, Mr Carluccio.
But perhaps I’m being a bit judgemental. After all, what’s not to like about a little potato dumpling? Perhaps my beef was never with the dumpling at all, but with the heavy cheese sauce – it was simply too rich and bad-dream-inducing.
However, I decided to push aside my reservations and give gnocchi another chance, so off I trotted to Tesco to buy a lovely fresh packet – please don’t expect me to make it from scratch, I’ve tried and it was a messy, unmitigated disaster. I did however make this rather springy pea pesto to go with it which was very tasty and can be in your belly within fifteen minutes. It’s official, gnocchi and I are friends again.
Gnocchi with pea pesto, asparagus & watercress
Serves 2 / Hands on time 20 mins / Total time 20 mins / V
You’ll need: A food processor or blender
Handful fresh mint leaves
2 tbs pine nuts
½ a lemon
200g frozen garden peas
30g vegetarian Italian hard cheese or Parmesan* grated plus extra for serving
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
¼ tsp sea salt flakes
300g fresh gnocchi
125g asparagus, woody ends removed and cut into thirds
Handful cherry tomatoes, halved
2 handfuls watercress
Tip: This recipe makes enough pesto for 4 servings. Any remaining pesto can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days or freeze on the day of making.
Tip: This pesto also works well with pasta if you’re not a gnocchi fan.
1. Start by boiling a kettle and put your frozen peas in a sieve. Pour the boiling water over the frozen peas to thaw them a bit and put to one side. Fill the kettle again and boil – you’ll need this for the gnocchi and asparagus later.
2. To make the pesto pour the peas into a food processor along with the chopped garlic, lemon juice, pine nuts, grated cheese, mint leaves and salt. Blitz for about a minute before adding the extra virgin olive oil and blitzing again until you have a smooth paste.
3. Pour the boiled kettle into a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Add the chopped asparagus spears and cook for 2 minutes before adding the gnocchi and cooking for 2-3 mins (check packet instructions). Drain and pour back into the saucepan and stir in half of the pesto and the tomato halves. Serve immediately on a bed of watercress topped with a sprinkle of cheese, a drizzle of olive oil and a crack of black pepper.
If you’ve had a go at making my gnocchi or any of my other recipes, I’d love to hear about it @corrieheale firstname.lastname@example.org
❄ The pesto is suitable for home freezing in an airtight container. Consume within 3 months.
*Parmesan (Parmigiano Reggiani) is always made using animal rennet, therefore it is not vegetarian. Substitute for Italian hard cheese if applicable.