With the first nice weather of the year upon us and the feeling that spring might actually be coming in like a lamb, I started to think about lighter dishes for dinner. Something fresh and green with a light hit of citrus.
There’s a lot to like about gnocchi with peas, basil and buffalo mozzarella—from the great combination of fresh flavours to how beautiful it looks on a plate—but the best part might be how adaptable it is.
If you wanted to really maximize flavours and freshness (and had an hour or so to spare) you could make the gnocchi and pesto oil from scratch. If it was summer, you could shell your own peas and trim your own pea shoots and greens as well.
If it’s a Tuesday night and you need to get supper on the table, you could simply use ready-made gnocchi, frozen peas and jarred pesto enlivened with squeeze of fresh lemon and a bit of good olive oil. That’s what we did and it was terrific.
Gnocchi with peas, pesto and buffalo mozzarella (adapted from Donal Skehan)
A package of potato gnocchi (about 500grams)
1.5 tablespoons prepared pesto
2.5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (some to fry the gnocchi, some to thin the pesto, some to drizzle on top)
A quarter of a fresh lemon
250 grams Buffalo Mozzarella
150 grams peas (freshly picked or frozen)
Pea shoots for garnish
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and cook the gnocchi for about two minutes or until they float. Scoop out the gnocchi, but keep the water boiling.
2. In a large sauté pan, over medium heat, bring about a tablespoon of olive oil to temp and gently fry the cooked gnocchi until they develop a bit of a golden brown crust.
3. Place your peas in the boiling pesto water and cook for 2 to 3 minutes before transferring to a sieve or colander to drain.
4. Combine the pesto, remaining olive oil and lemon juice in a large bowl and give it a good stir. Taste and adjust seasonings (more lemon? Touch of salt?). Once the seasonings are good, combine the peas and fried gnocchi in the pesto bowl and toss to coat.
5. To plate, tear a soft piece of the buffalo mozzarella into the middle of the plate and then surround it with the gnocchi, peas and pesto. Scatter the top with fresh pea shoots and greens, and drizzle on a touch of good extra-virgin olive oil.