Thursday, March 14, 2013

Fresh Spring Peas and Carrot Gnocchi with Mint Pesto

Spring is almost here, y'all. My planner has it scheduled for next week, Wednesday, March 20, but keeping tabs on what's bloomed first has been the thing to notice, a daily secret thrill ever since the end of February here in Memphis. It's sooo time for it: daffodils, crocuses, redbuds, dogwoods, tulip poplars, even the very first tulips that look so fake are here. 

With all of this going on, winter stuff (hearty food, apple desserts, wool socks, staying inside...) is starting to feel all wrong, and this might just be the dish to usher in springtime. It got that status around here, anyway! 

Remember cans of peas and carrots mixed? This is in homage to that craziness, but freshened up and ready for springtime with mint, Vidalia onions, the first peas, all the good stuff that will be with us in abundance as we head toward Easter. 

Fresh Spring Peas and Carrot Gnocchi with Mint Pesto

Mint Pesto (recipe follows)
1 cup diced carrot (2 medium carrots)
1 tablespoon water
1 egg

Kosher salt and cracked black pepper (to taste)
1 cup flour
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3/4 cup diced Vidalia onion (just white and light green parts)

1 cup fresh English peas
Manchego cheese (to garnish)

Special equipment: 1 one-gallon food storage bag

Make Mint Pesto according to the instructions. Set aside in the fridge until ready to assemble the dish. In a covered dish, microwave the carrots and water for 4 minutes. Allow mixture to rest for an additional 4 minutes. 

Place the cooked carrots and any water into the work bowl of your food processor, add the egg, add a pinch of salt and pepper, and process until smooth. Add the flour and pulse until everything is incorporated. (It's important to process the mixture as little as possible once the four is added so you don't end up with tough gnocchi.) Transfer mixture to a one-gallon food storage bag and press it into one corner of the bag. 

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. In a large pan over medium heat, melt the butter and add the onions and peas. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the raw flavor is out of the onion and the peas are cooked through.

Cut the corner out of the plastic bag and hold bag over the boiling water. Squeeze the bag from the back and force the mixture out of the hole. Using kitchen shears, snip the dough every 1/4 inch and allow it to fall into the water. Once all gnocchi have floated to the top, retrieve them using a spider and add them to the pea and onion mixture.

To plate, spread 1/4 of the pesto into the center of a plate. Spoon the gnocchi, pea, onion mixture over the pesto and garnish with Manchego. (Serves 2 to 4.)

Mint Pesto

1/4 cup pine nuts (toasted)
1 cup loose packed mint leaves
Zest 1 lemon
1 clove garlic

1/8 teaspoon cane sugar
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper (to taste)
1/4 cup olive oil

Into the work bowl of your food processor, place the pine nuts, mint leaves, lemon zest, garlic, sugar, salt, and pepper. Turn the processor on and drizzle in the olive oil to form a paste. Set aside.


The Yogi Vegetarian said...

Looks really fresh-tasting:) These would be Summer ingredients where I live- we have to wait a long time for our homegrown goodies...

Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar said...

I totally dig this! What a neat idea!

Eileen said...

These gnocchi look amazing! I love the idea of combining carrot, peas, and mint for a super intense shot of SPRING.

Sara @ The Cozy Herbivore said...

Gorgeous, love the colors! The combination of peas & carrots always makes me think of being a "townsperson" in our drama club shows in high school-- to make it look like we were casually talking amongst ourselves, our director would instruct us to mutter "Peas and carrots, peas and carrots" to one another. I'm sure we looked ridiculous.


JFloColman said...

mmmm this looks amazing!

tender b. said...

Aww...the days of peas and carrots. I had forgotten all about that time. I would love to remember in gnocchi form.

katy. said...

Could you make the gnocchi dough ahead of time (say in the morning), and cook right before serving? This looks splendid!

Tejomaya said...

Brilliant! Delicious! We just made it from store bought ingredients as it is still early for carrots and peas, but that did not seem any hardship. We used the big food processor for the pesto and would have been happier with a smaller one. And, it took less then an hour to make and enjoy; that was a delightful surprise.