Light and airy gnocchi paired with the late spring harvest of peas and fava beans make this early summer pasta a favorite. To allow the delicate qualities of spring to shine, it is important to keep the gnocchi light by using very little flour and handling it delicately. Kennebec or any good baking potato, like the prevalent Idaho, are ideal to use for their starchiness.
Yields 100 gnocchi
2 cups vegetable stock
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup cooked, shucked fava beans
1/2 cup white pearl onions, blanched and cut into rounds
1 cup cooked, shucked sweet peas
1/2 cup baby carrots, cut into small rounds and cooked
2 cups loosely packed pea tendrils
3 or 4 sprigs mint, chiffonade and reserving a few whole leaves for garnish
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 oz freshly grated pecorino cheese
Note: All ingredients are weighed on a kitchen scale.
17 1/2 oz cooked Kennebec potatoes, peeled and passed through a fine-mesh strainer
2 egg yolks
2 tbsp salt
3 1/2 oz all-purpose flour (“00” pasta flour)
To cook the potatoes, pierce potatoes with a fork and place on a bed of salt in a baking dish. Place into a 350°F oven and bake until fully cooked. Cut the potatoes in half and press the potato through a fine-mesh strainer and into a bowl. Weigh the potatoes before proceeding. Add in egg yolks, salt, and flour.
Using a plastic bench scraper, cut in the flour to avoid overmixing the starch. (Overmixing will make the gnocchi tough.) Once the mix has just come together, cut off a small chunk and, on a lightly floured surface, begin to roll it out into an even cylinder-like shape. Once it is the desired thickness, using a knife, cut the gnocchi. Place the gnocchi on a lightly floured baking dish and set aside. Repeat this process until all of the dough has been rolled and cut.
This will make about 120 small gnocchi. Whatever you do not use can be placed on a dish and in the freezer. Once frozen, transfer to a resealable bag and place back in freezer.
For Vegetable Stock
Yields 2 quarts
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, cut into large dice
2 medium leeks with 3 inches of dark green leaf, washed and sliced
1 stalk celery, cut into large dice
3 plum tomatoes, very ripe and chopped
1 head garlic, cut in half
2 large heads fennel, medium dice
1 1/2 tsp white peppercorns
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 large bay leaf
2 quarts cold water
1 tsp salt
6 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1/2 cup white wine
Heat the oil in an 8-quart stockpot. Stir in the onion, leeks, celery, tomatoes, garlic, fennel, peppercorns, coriander, and bay leaf. Cover and sweat the vegetables until soft, approximately 20 minutes.
Add the cold water and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat and simmer for 90 minutes. Remove the pot from heat and stir in the salt, parsley, thyme, and white wine. Set the pot aside to cool and continue steeping. After the stock has cooled, strain out the liquid, pressing on the vegetables to extract all the flavor.
Cook the gnocchi in a pot of boiling salted water. Once the gnocchi float, they are done. Pull them out and place in a sauce pot with 2 cups vegetable stock. Swirl in the butter. Add the cooked fava beans, pearl onions, peas, and baby carrots. Stir in the pea tendrils and mint and season with salt, pepper, and pecorino cheese.
Spoon gnocchi into 6 bowls. Place remainder of the vegetables on top. Spoon the remaining sauce over each bowl of gnocchi and garnish with pecorino cheese and mint leaves. Serve immediately.