Fresh pasta is highlighted by a delicate sauce. This sauce recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Alice Waters. I don’t think Alice Waters would make this swap… but, I used frozen peas instead of fresh, and fresh pasta instead of dried. I also modified the recipe by doubling the garlic, peas, and marjoram. Next time, a nice addition would be to add baby spinach with the noodles. I shaved the ricotta salata over the finished dish with a serrated vegetable peeler. Garlicky and good.
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 4-8 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 2 cups fresh (2 pounds unshelled) or frozen baby peas
- 1 pound fresh fettuccine
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped marjoram
- 3/4 cup crumbled or shaved ricotta salata or feta cheese (about 3 ounces)
- Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet. Add the garlic and cook over low heat, stirring, until very soft and golden, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat.
- In a large saucepan of boiling salted water, blanch the peas in a strainer until just tender, about 3 minutes. Transfer the peas to a bowl.
- Add the fettuccine to the saucepan and boil until al dente, about 4 minutes. Drain the fettuccine, reserving 1/4 cup of the cooking water. Return the pasta to the saucepan and toss with the garlic oil, peas and reserved pasta water. Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with the marjoram. Top with the cheese and serve at once.
When I saw this recipe in my Food and Wine magazine, I wanted to make it right away. The title of the column, “Best New Chef: Most Wanted Recipes”, made it hard to resist, and the picture of the finished VEGETARIAN dish was gorgeous. I bought all of the ingredients. Then I pulled up the recipe in my kitchen on FoodandWine.com and saw that the comments regarding this dish stated that the recipe was flawed and inaccurate. I had already been scarred in the past making waterlogged (gummy) potato gnocchi, and I didn’t want to put myself through another frustrating experience. However, despite the comments, my husband encouraged me to make this dish anyway- and I really wanted to try it. So I approached this recipe with trepidation.
The primary issue with the original recipe is that it calls for 2.5 pounds of fresh spinach- the comments on the Food and Wine website stated that this resulted in too much spinach puree, and dough that wouldn’t hold together. I decided that this was because 2.5 pounds of bagged spinach was used, and I was using 2.5 pounds of fresh spinach which when stemmed weighed 1 pound, 6 ounces. (I weighed it as I was being much more thorough than usual!) After blanching the spinach, I squeezed it dry in a potato ricer – my secret weapon. I didn’t want waterlogged gnocchi again! The end result was 1 1/2 cups of spinach puree– only 1 cup is used in the gnocchi. (I will just eat or reuse the leftover spinach puree -yum.) When I make this dish again in the future, I will use 2 pounds of fresh spinach (with stems).
I was also apprehensive to alter the shape of each gnocchi for fear that they would disassemble. The dough is very sticky and wet– it is not rolled into a log, but scooped into a mound of flour. So, I kept my “scoops”- they looked like spinach meatballs. 🙂
This gnocchi is very flavorful– much more than a potato or ricotta gnocchi. They were very tender and delicious. Completely worth all of the stress. The use of three cheeses and brown butter give it a complex and FABULOUS taste. I know why this is a “Most Wanted Recipe”! This recipe was contributed to Food and Wine by Mark Vetri of Vetri Ristorante in Philadelphia. My adaptations are incorporated below. This dish would be a lovely -and fancy- appetizer as well.
- TOTAL TIME: 1 HR
- SERVINGS: 4 as a main dish, 6+ as an appetizer
- 2 pounds fresh spinach, stemmed (not bagged spinach)
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Grana Padano cheese (1 ounce)
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1/2 cup plain, dry, fine bread crumbs
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground pepper
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and shaved ricotta salata, for serving
- Soak spinach to wash throughly. In a large pot of salted boiling water, blanch the spinach until tender, about 4 minutes. Drain with a bamboo strainer (spider) into a colander, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid. Cool the spinach by placing the colander into a large bowl of ice water, then drain and squeeze dry. Squeezing out all excess water by using a potato ricer is a great method. Wipe out the pot, fill with water and bring to a gentle simmer.
- Meanwhile, transfer the spinach to a food processor. Add 3 tablespoons of the reserved cooking liquid and puree until very smooth. You should have 1 cup of puree; add additional cooking liquid if needed.
- Scrape the spinach puree into a large bowl and mix in the grated Grana Padano cheese, eggs, bread crumbs, nutmeg, 3/4 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. Stir in 1/4 cup of the flour to form a soft dough.
- Spread the remaining 1 cup of flour in a pie plate and dust a large rimmed baking sheet with flour. Place dough into the flour using a 1-inch ice cream scoop. Gently roll the gnocchi dough into 1-inch balls. Carefully roll the gnocchi in the flour, shake off the excess and transfer to the prepared baking sheet.
- Add salt to the simmering water. Add half of the gnocchi to the pot and cook until they rise to the surface, then simmer until cooked through, about 3 minutes (about 5 minutes total cooking time). Using a slotted spoon, transfer the gnocchi to a platter. Cover loosely with foil. Repeat with the remaining gnocchi.
- In a skillet, cook the butter over moderate heat until golden, about 2 minutes. Spoon the brown butter over the gnocchi. Top with Parmigiano and ricotta salata (I used a serrated peeler to “shave” it) and serve.