I am really excited to introduce this fabulous gnocchi dish as the first of a series of Spring to Summer recipes from Phoebe Gale, my lovely, talented daughter.
Phoebe has contributed to our recipe collection in the past and now I've asked her to come up with some of her favourite seasonal combinations.
The recent vegetable shortages in some UK shops has reminded us all of the benefits of using local seasonal produce, both for a lower carbon footprint and because it's great to eat food in season!
Over to Phoebe..
Hello - over the next 6 months I will be sharing some of my favourite recipes from what I consider the best time of the year. As we shift into Spring, and then finally into Summer, I start to feel inspired more and more by ingredients. Don’t get me wrong, I am here for the gorgeous radicchios and blood oranges of winter but as a long-time lover of all things green, I crave the bright verdant colours of spring – and the veggies and produce that come with it.
Many of you may already know me, or recognise my face from Instagram, as Helen’s daughter. Whilst I also have a background in sewing, like my mum, my work and passion lies in all things food, community and eating together. Having recently completed a masters in the Anthropology of Food at SOAS, my thesis focused on the role of food, hospitality and community spaces in Cornish villages, disproportionately affected by tourism. My work now revolves around a few different projects, including, baking, and cooking for a local deli, running a community space called The Old Ship, cooking for and organising supper clubs and writing about all the above and the joy they bring me.
I grew up vegetarian so my food has always been about the vegetables! My dad is a keen gardener, and I spent my childhood in the garden eating vegetables at their best. Today, we share a garden and I’m looking forward to using some of its produce in the recipes I share over the next few months. I was super lucky to spend two long periods of time working in Croatia over the last couple of years, in an amazing guesthouse, tending to their kitchen garden, and cooking food for guests and colleagues using all the amazing produce.
This has really inspired me to use what’s around me to decide upon what to cook, and to adapt things to suit what I have. I encourage you to do the same with the recipes I share, and I will add in suggestions where I think of them. My food is mostly simple, sometimes I can’t help but take on a 4-hour dessert recipe, but mostly it’s a few good ingredients (and lots of tomatoes and garlic, joy!).
March is my birthday month, and my favourite food is garlic, so it was meant to be that this is the month when wild garlic comes into season. Wild garlic or Ramsons, have long, pointed green leaves and are easy to find in woodland, often creating a beautiful green blanket across the forest floor.
They are best picked young for the strongest flavour and can be recognised by their distinctive allium scent. March is the best time for picking. This list from The National Trust provides a few good locations where you might find wild garlic. If you’re in London, particularly South East (my old home), Camberwell Cemetery has lots but you can also find it from a really good veg shop or farmers market.
Wild garlic is great in soups, or even quiches and tarts but my favourite way to use it is raw in some form of sauce, so it retains its bright colour! Salsa Verde is works well, with salty anchovies and capers but my favourite is a pesto, spooned over pasta. I always use walnuts in pesto as I think they give just as much flavour and are considerably cheaper than pine nuts, but you’re welcome to use whichever nuts, or seeds, you have to hand.
I love making fresh pasta, but I’m aware it requires the kit, so I have given my recipe here for homemade gnocchi instead. These plump little potato dumplings are the perfect carrier for zingy pesto, or you could use any bought pasta or gnocchi as the wild garlic packs so much flavour.
In the recipe below I’ve topped it with a pangrattato (the Italian name for a flavoured breadcrumb) for a bit of extra crunch and texture. Breadcrumbs are a great way to use up left over bread or the crust. Just whizz them in the food processor until they form a fine crumb, and then freeze until ready to use. The beauty of a pangrattato is that since you fry the breadcrumbs, there is no need to defrost beforehand.
Homemade Gnocchi with Wild Garlic Pesto and Anchovy Pangrattato
For the gnocchi
- 1.4kg Maris Piper Potatoes, skins on, cleaned and pricked with a fork
- 3 egg yolks, beaten
- 110g plain flour
For the pesto
- 100g wild garlic
- 50g walnuts
- 50g hard Italian cheese, grated (I used a mixture of parmesan ad pecorino)
- Olive oil
For the pangrattato
- 1 slice of bread
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 6 anchovy fillets, plus some of their oil
- 1 lemon, zest
Turn the oven on to 200 degrees (fan) and prick the potatoes all over with a knife. Bake the potatoes on the middle shelf for an hour, or until soft and cooked through and then leave them to cool.
To make the pangrattato, break the bread into small pieces and place into a food processor, whizz until you have breadcrumbs. In a frying pan place the olive oil, anchovies and their oil and fry on a low heat until the anchovies are starting to break up. Add the breadcrumbs, reserve your food processor to one side for the pesto, there’s no need to wash it in between. Cook the breadcrumbs until they are a lovely golden-brown colour, then add the lemon zest and fry for another minute. Put to one side ready for serving.
For the pesto, start by toasting the nuts, place them on a baking tray and put them in the oven for around 8 minutes, or until they are golden brown. With walnuts, I like to remove their skins as they have a slight bitterness. Once roasted, place them in a clean tea towel, wrap up and lightly rub the walnuts against the tea towel, this will remove the skins.
Don’t worry too much if there are still some bits attached as long as most of them have been removed. Place the skinned nuts into a food processor, along with the other ingredients, apart from the olive oil. Add some salt and pepper and begin to blitz, slowly adding olive oil as you go until the ingredients have blended to form a paste.
The amount of oil you add is up to you, some people make a thicker pesto or others like something oilier – it's personal taste! Put this to one side ready for serving.
At this point I get everything ready, so I can work quickly once I begin making my gnocchi. Weigh out your flour, separate and beat your eggs, get some salt within reach, and have a large wooden board, or clean work surface ready.
Once the potatoes are cool enough to handle, take a knife and slice down the middle and scoop out the flesh. Then, using a potato ricer or a masher, mash them onto your board so you have a very smooth mixture.
Add the egg yolks, and sprinkle over the flour and a pinch of salt, then using a dough scraper or a fork start to incorporate all the ingredients together.
If you’ve got a dough scraper start to slice, mash and fold the ingredients together, all at once! Once they are all together, knead the dough with your hands, very slightly, just enough to bring it all together.
Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil, ready for your gnocchi. To form the gnocchi, take off about a golf ball sized piece of dough, and on a very, very lightly floured surface roll it into a sausage shape, about 1.5cm thick. Using your dough scraper, or a knife, cut the sausages into pieces about 2cm long, creating your individual pieces of gnocchi, place them on a board ready for cooking. Repeat until you have used up all the dough.
Once the water has come to the boil, slide all the gnocchi into the pan, when they rise to the top they are ready. At this point drain them, and transfer to a large bowl, pour over the pesto and toss gently until well combined – you want each piece to be beautifully coated.
Transfer into bowls and top with the pangrattato, and some extra parmesan if you fancy, enjoy!
Follow me on Instagram @keninen__ (Keninen is the Cornish word for garlic, a combination of my two favourite things (Dad Ken and Garlic)!
I post all the events I’m working on, plus food pics and sometimes recipes on there. Be sure to tag me in any of these that you make too.
Find me at @thestores_cornwall and the @oldshipcawsand
My recommendation from this post @bolara60 (go visit, stay, work or live, it’s just amazing!) - here's a link to their website, click here.
Thanks Phoebe, simply delicious - I'm looking forward to the next recipe in your series of Spring Into Summer!
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