One of the most incredible things about living in New York is the ability it affords of traveling without leaving the city. What I mean by that is you’re almost immediately able to move from China Town to Little Italy before hopping on an express subway right to Little Havana, Jamaica, Israel, Poland, Russia… It makes for a really great staycation.
But there are three places I’ve been dying to go in my little heart of hearts: Italy, Greece and on an African Safari. This past weekend, my boyfriend and I spent the better part of a rainy Saturday flipping through travel books at our favorite bookstore in Austin – Book People, day dreaming of a trip filled with pasta and pizza, blue oceans and white stucco houses, and zebras, lions and giraffes.
While we decided that one of those trips will certainly be in our future, it’s not going to happen right now. In the meantime, I’ll live my vacation fantasies out through my plate. This is Italy meets New England, to be exact. Fresh, light homemade gnocchi pairs perfectly with a delicate, lemony parmesan sauce. Local, fresh peas barely cooked to al dente give the dish not only bright color but great textural contrast.
These homemade gnocchi are impressive by all accounts, and they make great leftovers too (if you can keep them around that long).
GNOCCHI WITH PEAS IN A LEMON PARMESAN SAUCE
(serves 4, entree)
for the gnocchi:
1 pound russet potatoes (2 medium potatoes)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup all purpose flour + a little extra for counter
for the sauce:
6 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup minced white onion
1 garlic clove
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
2 cups fresh or frozen peas
1 cup shredded parmesan cheese + additional for serving
1/4 cup lemon juice + 1 teaspoon lemon zest (zest for serving)
Start by prepping your potatoes. Scrub them clean and pierce all over with a fork. Microwave for 6 minutes. Flip the potatoes over and microwave for another 6 minutes. Remove from the microwave and let cool. Once cool enough to handle, rub the skins off of the potato’s flesh. Mash the flesh with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Add the beaten egg and flour, stir until everything is mostly combined. Sprinkle the counter with a little flour and place the potato dough on top. Knead until the dough is smooth. Form a rectangle with your hands, roughly 8 inches by 4 inches. Cut the rectangle into 4 long pieces, each about 8 inches by 1 inch.
Working with 1 piece at a time, roll into a 1/2 inch thick rope that’s about 24 inches long. Cut the dough rope into 24, 1 inch pieces. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Roll each piece of gnocchi on a gnocchi board or the tines of a fork to form ridges on the pasta. Place each rolled piece on a baking sheet. Try not to have them overlap as they may stick to each other.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 1 teaspoon of salt and the gnocchi. Boil for 5 minutes – all the gnocchi should float to the top. Reserve 1 cup of gnocchi water and drain the rest.
In the meantime, prepare the sauce. Melt the butter and olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté 2 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté an additional minute. Add the peas and sauté 30 seconds. Add the lemon juice and the gnocchi. Toss to combine. Sprinkle with parmesan and toss to combine again. If too thick, add the gnocchi water 1 tablespoon at a time until you reach desired sauce level. Sprinkle with additional parmesan and lemon zest. Serve immediately.