I have to say that summer has been a real disappointment this year, particularly with the last week being wet & miserable in Christchurch. Over the weekend to combat the bad weather blues I've was craving a bit of comfort food.
So after a bit of umming and ahhhing and several sessions of looking in the pantry and fridge for inspiration, I settled on throwing together some gnocchi with extras from the garden.
I love this Summer Pesto recipe as it uses lots of things from my garden, and is quick & easy to make. Even with lots of overcast wet days my kale crop has done well, with the plants now turning into triffids. I could be eating kale every day and I'm sure the plants would still keep up - downside I'd probably develop a greenish appearance!
You'll have to excuse the rather rustic appearance of my gnocchi as I was in a bit of a rush and didn't roll them properly - never mind they still tasted good even if they left someting to be desired in the beauty stakes.
GNOCCHI WITH PANCETTA & SUMMER PESTO
100g fresh peas, or frozen peas defrosted
Handful each fresh basil & flatleaf parsley leaves
Finely grated zest and juice 1 lemon
¼ tsp salt
1kg floury potatoes, unpeeled uniform size
2 large free-range egg yolks
175g ‘00’ grade flour, plus extra for dusting
1½ tsp fine sea salt
60g smoked pancetta slices
To serve - extra lemon juice and grated parmesan (optional), micro greens
To Make Gnocchi - Heat the oven to 170°C/ 150°C fan forced. Lightly prick potatoes with a fork several times, then cook for 1 hour 15 minutes until a thin, sharp knife goes through a potato without resistance (time dependent on the size of the potatoes). Cool potatoes for a few minutes, then peel.
Push the potato flesh through a potato ricer or sieve into a large bowl, add egg yolks, flour & salt. Bring the mixture together in the bowl to form a dough, then turn out onto a clean, lightly floured work surface & roll into a thick sausage shape about 20cm long. Cut the dough into 4 pieces, then cut one of the pieces in half. Form into a small sausage shape, then gently roll out into a thinner, longer log until it’s about 1.5cm thick. Using a sharp knife, cut into 2cm lengths (flour knife if necessary). Repeat for the other pieces of dough. Pinch each piece slightly in the centre to give its classic shape, then place in a single layer on baking trays lined with baking paper lightly dusted with flour.
To cook the gnocchi, bring a large pan of salted water to a rolling boil, add the gnocchi in batches to the water. Keep the water boiling, & after 1-2 minutes the gnocchi will float to the top. Scoop out using a slotted spoon into a large bowl.
To Make Pesto - Remove the spines from the kale & place with the peas in a colander in the sink. Pour over a kettle of boiling water & wait for 2 minutes. Rinse & refresh under cold water.
Transfer to a food processor with the basil, parsley, mascarpone, lemon zest & juice, salt & parmesan. Whizz to a chunky pesto consistency, taste & season with more salt & black pepper.
To Assemble - Fry pancetta in a frypan over high heat, turning occaisionally until crisp. Drain on paper towels. Add the cooked gnocchi & pesto to the pancetta pan & crumble over the cooked pancetta. Toss well to combine, add a couple of tblspns of gnocchi water to loosen mixture if required, taste & season. Serve with an extra squeeze of lemon juice, grated parmesan if you’re a fan, & top with micro greens.
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All Images © Deborah Aspray - Motif Lifestyle Images Ltd 2015