In the Kitchen :: Ricotta Gnocchi with Fava Beans, Chili and Mint
Forgive the mediocre photos (you can only do so much with florescent kitchen lighting), but this dish totally stands on it's own. Not to toot my own horn, but yes, it's a pasta dish and yes, it's a must. Fresh ricotta is one of those delicious treasures that make any recipe turn into something spectacular - particularly when the ricotta is from Salvatore Brooklyn - ridiculously smooth and rich yet not heavy. As a quick side note, I had a bit of the ricotta for a quick breakfast last weekend topped with chopped pecans and drizzled with honey, oh wow. Simple but unbelievable and quite satisfying when I had about 30 seconds to get out the door.
Back to the ricotta gnocchi...this is certainly a more indulgent dinner, but it's full of fresh fava beans to pack in something green and if you serve it up as a side, it works quite well into a balanced meal. The addition of mint gives it a nice springtime spike of flavor and brightness. And when it comes to homemade pasta, you can feel quite accomplished without spending hours in the kitchen - it's fairly simple to make and doesn't require a pasta machine. Try it...trust me.
*Fyi...you can find Salvatore Brooklyn ricotta at Eataly, the Brooklyn Flea and Essex St Market at Saxelby Cheese among other local stockists. Try out their Sicilian co-op olive oil as well, well-priced with a great, fruity flavor.
Ricotta Gnocchi :: with Fava Beans, Chili and Mint
Serves :: 2
8 oz fresh ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated parmesan or pecorino Romano cheese
1/2 tsp salt
black pepper to taste
2/3 cup flour
1 1/2 tbsp butter
1 tsp minced garlic
1 cup fava beans, blanched and peeled
1 tbsp fresh mint, chopped
1 tsp fresh oregano, chopped
2 stalks spring garlic, chopped (about 1/4 cup)
1 to 2 small red chilies, seeded and finely sliced
zest of 1/2 lemon
extra parmesan or pecorino Romano for serving
To make the gnocchi, combine the ricotta, parmesan, egg, salt and pepper in a mixing bowl. Add in the flour and form into a dough. *Make sure that the ricotta is somewhat dry - if it's quite wet or liquidy, squeeze out excess liquid by straining it in cheesecloth. Place mixture in the fridge to chill for about an hour.
Separate gnocchi dough in 2 and roll out on a well-floured surface with floured hands into ropes about 1 thick. Create squared off edges by lighting pressing on the ropes. Cut gnocchi about 1 1/2 inches in length.
Bring salted water to a boil (2 tablespoons salt for 4 quarts of water). Cook gnocchi in 2 batches about 3 to 4 minutes each. Strain and set aside, leaving some pasta water behind.
In a large skillet over medium-low heat, melt butter. Add in gnocchi and cook for about 3 minutes. Add in garlic, fava beans and remaining ingredients and cook for another 3 or 4 minutes until gnocchi is golden brown. Serve with extra grated parmesan or pecorino Romano cheese.
Minted :: Round I
As promised, here are those lovely, refreshing recipes that go along with the most recent Rue Magazine food spread I conjured up. Get ready for some serious minty goodness in three recipe rounds!
Spring Salad :: with Asparagus, Sugar Snap Peas, Mint & Feta
Serves :: 4
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and cut in 2 inch pieces
1/2 pound sugar snap peas
1 small bunch radishes, trimmed, cleaned and quartered
1 cup fresh mint leaves (about 1/2 a small bunch)
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
2 ounces feta cheese
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
2 to 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Blanch asparagus and snap peas in boiling water for 1 minute and place directly in an ice bath. Toss with radish, mint, onion and feta. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together lemon juice, vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. Drizzle over salad and gently toss. Sprinkle grated lemon zest over top and serve.
Minted :: Round II
Roast Lamb Sandwiches with Mint Pesto and Pickled Shallots ::
Serves :: 4
1 2 pound leg of lamb, bone removed
extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
3 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste
Serve with whole wheat country or ciabatta bread.
2 cups fresh mint leaves (packed), stems discarded
1 clove garlic
1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan or pecorino Romano cheese
1/4 cup pine nuts
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon lemon zest
juice of 1 lemon juice
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Pickled Shallots and Jalapenos
1 cup white vinegar
2 tablespoons water
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons black peppercorns
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1 to 2 jalapenos, seeded and thinly sliced
Rub lamb with garlic and season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours or overnight.
Preheat oven to 350° F.
On a roasting sheet or in a roasting pan, drizzle lamb with olive oil and roast for 35-45 minutes until the temperature at the thickest part of the leg reaches 135° F for medium-rare. Remove lamb from oven and allow to rest for 5 to 10 minutes before cutting.
To prepare sandwiches, spread a thin layer of pesto on bread, top with sliced lamb and garnish with pickled shallots and jalapenos.
Add mint through lemon juice in a food processor and slowly drizzle in olive oil while running. Pesto should be smooth or slightly chunky.
Pickled Shallots and Jalapenos
Bring vinegar, sugar, salt and peppercorns to a boil. Removed from heat, cool slightly and pour over sliced shallots and jalapeno in two separate bowls. Cool and refrigerate. May be made a day ahead.