Gnocchi with pea pesto, asparagus & watercress 

Gnocchi with pea pesto and watercress
Gnocchi with pea pesto and watercress
Gnocchi with pea pesto and watercress

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 Vn*
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 (optional)
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1 tbs Pomora lemon 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


*Make it vegan: Vegan gnocchi is relatively easy to find but always check the label just in case. The pesto is tastes just as delicious without Parmesan so simply leave it out.


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.


Method
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.

Gnocchi with pea pesto and watercress
Gnocchi with pea pesto and watercress

If you’ve had a go at making any of my recipes, I’d love to hear from you. Follow me now @corrieheale and tag your recipe pictures using #corriesrabbitfood.


V– Vegetarian     Vn – Forgo the Parmesan and use vegan gnocchi
❄ 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.



Asparagus, pea & goats cheese risotto

Asparagus, pea and goats cheese risotto Final
Asparagus, pea and goats cheese risotto Final
Asparagus, pea and goats cheese risotto

It may have escaped your attention, but I have well over 150 recipes on this blog, and not one of those recipes is a risotto. Even just the word fills me with a despair, one which can only be trumped by the even-more-disappointing ‘stuffed pepper’. There’s nothing worse than a pepper stuffed with whatever scraps the restaurant chef can find – which, more often than not, is last night’s vegetarian option: risotto. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
Don’t get me wrong, a risotto can be a wonderful thing – but frankly, it rarely is. It’s the lazy vegetarian option that graces pub menus throughout the land, and has been given all the love and attention of some over-steamed veg at a carvary.

On a few occasions (and I know this sounds silly), I’ve been close to tears when I’ve looked up from my sickie bowl of stodge to see plates piled high with tender-looking roast beef, golden Yorkshire puddings, glazed carrots, crispy roast potatoes and glossy gravy. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I want to eat my boyfriend’s roast dinner, I just crave the same love and attention that went into making his meal. And, in my experience (and I’ve eaten a lot of risotto), that is rarely the case… Until recently.

After a day of exploring the Derbyshire countryside and eating our weight in Bakewell pudding, my boyfriend and I booked a table at The Manners in Bakewell. Starving, my eyes quickly devoured the menu only to fall upon the word I had been hoping not to see: ‘risotto’. My heart sank, and so did Jamie’s (he knows how upset risotto makes me).
“Maybe there’s a special on?” he said apologetically, turning in his chair to look for a board.
“There isn’t,” I replied glumly, looking at the starters to see if one could double up as a main. “They have a burrata salad – maybe I could have that with chips or something?” I added weakly, but Jamie could see my disappointment.
“Why don’t you just try the risotto?” he suggested tentatively.
“Why don’t you try it?!” I snapped accidentally, and instantly regretted it.
“Fine!” he hit back. “Let’s just go somewhere else – forget the fact we’ve been waiting an hour at the bar for this table and it’s almost nine o’clock.”
“Are you ready to order?” the kindly waiter interrupted. He had suddenly appeared by my side, pen poised and expectant look on his face.
“Er, yeah, sorry – I’ll have the burrata and the risotto,” I smiled weakly.

It. Was. Delicious. A creamy, dreamy bowl of perfectly cooked rice with bursts of fresh pea, asparagus and dill. With every mouthful, I discovered pockets of tangy goats cheese rind as well as subtle notes of lemon. Before I know it, Jamie had abandoned his meal and we are both digging into mine – and I didn’t mind one bit. For the first time in living memory, a pub risotto was finally worthy of centre stage. So I did something I thought I would never do – a risotto recipe. Pigs have flown. Enjoy!


Asparagus, pea and goats cheese risotto
Serves 4 / Hands on Time 1 hr 10 mins / Total time 1 hr 10 mins / Gf 
200g asparagus
1 onion, finely chopped
30g unsalted butter
2 garlic cloves, crushed
200g risotto rice
150ml vegetarian white wine
800ml vegetable stock, I use Knorr stock pots
200g frozen peas
40g vegetarian Italian hard cheese or *Parmesan
100g vegetarain goats cheese with rind, roughly chopped
Handful of fresh dill, chopped
½ lemon, juice and zest

Method
1. Discard the woody ends of the asparagus spears, chop in half and submerge in a small saucepan of boiling water. Cook for 4 minutes before draining and putting to one side.
2. Prepare all of the other ingredients, making risotto is pretty hands on so you want everything ready and to hand while cooking. Measure out, chop and grate everything you are going to need. Once the asparagus has cooled slightly, chop into chunks and put to one side with other ingredients.
3. In a large non stick pot, or saucepan with a lid, add the butter and sweat the onions down, on a low heat for around 10 minutes, with the lid on. Add the crushed garlic and continue to cook for a further few more minutes. Add the risotto rice and coat well in the buttery onion mixture before upping the heat to high. Stir continually for 3 minutes until the rice goes slightly translucent at the edges. Add all of the wine (it should fizz) and cook until the wine has absorbed.
4. Turn the heat down to medium and add a ladle of stock, stir until absorbed. Continue to add a ladle of stock one at a time and cook until each addition has been absorbed. Once all the stock has been incorporated, take off the heat.
5. Add the asparagus, peas, lemon juice, lemon zest, fresh dill, Italian hard cheese and the goats cheese. Mix well and cover with a lid and leave for 5 minutes. Finally uncover, season with salt and pepper and serve drizzled with extra virgin olive oil.

Asparagus, pea and goats cheese risotto Final
Asparagus, pea and goats cheese risotto

If you’ve had a go at making any of my recipes, I’d love to hear from you. Follow me now @corrieheale and tag your recipe pictures using #corriesrabbitfood.


Gf– Gluten free   ❄ Suitable for home freezing once cooled. 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.



Pea and basil soup

Pea & Basil Soup



Peas… I don’t like em. I don’t like their horrible little skins that get stuck in my teeth and I don’t like how they pop and spill their nasty sweet juice into my mouth. I don’t like how they get all dented and weird for no apparent reason and I don’t like their presence in veggie burgers.
However, there’s no denying that peas (as shrivelled and horrible as they are) are very nutritious; they’re high in vitamin C, folate and, rather surprisingly, high in protein, keeping you fuller for longer. So, in an attempt to conquer my lifelong pea aversion, I’ve blended them up with loads of basil and cream and the results were actually rather pea-leasing… Oh come on, I had to.


Pea & basil soup
Serves 4 / Hands on time 15 mins / Total time 25 minutes / Gf 
You’ll need: A food processor or hand blender
1 tsp rapeseed oil
1 onion, roughly chopped
500g frozen peas
1 litre of vegetable stock, I use 1 Knorr stock pot
200g broccoli, roughly chopped
40g vegetarian Italian hard cheese or *Parmesan, grated
Juice of half a lemon
30g fresh basil leaves
3 tbs Greek yogurt or single cream 
To serve
Pomora extra virgin olive oil
Pea shoots to serve (optional)


Method
1. In a large saucepan or pot, sweat the onions in a tsp of oil until softened. Add the frozen peas, broccoli, vegetable stock and season to taste.
2. Bring to the boil before turning down the heat to a simmer and leave to cook for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and blitz the soup with a hand blender until smooth.
3. Add the lemon juice, Greek yogurt, a large handful of basil leaves and the grated cheese. Blitz again until fully combined. Taste and add more seasoning if required. 
4. Serve immediately topped with pea shoots, a drizzle of single cream and extra virgin olive oil. 


If you’ve had a go at making any of my recipes, I’d love to hear from you. Follow me now @corrieheale and tag your recipe pictures using #corriesrabbitfood.


Gf– Gluten free   – Suitable for home freezing once cooled. 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.