Recipe: Spring Vegetables with Lemon Gnocchi and Mint

I love this time of year at the farmers’ market.  After living in the land of brassicas and root vegetables for months, suddenly we are gifted with sweet baby carrots, new peas, herbs, greens of all kinds, and, of course, asparagus.  Add a packet of beautiful gnocchi from Take Me Home and some ghee from the Butter Factory, and you have a meal I could eat every day for a month.  Or at least, that’s how it feels right now.

This may look kind of messy, but it really is a thing of beauty when you taste it – bursting with the sweet flavours of new vegetables, with a zing from the lemon in the gnocchi, and a touch of freshness from the mint.  Perfection.

bowl

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185 g peas (fresh if possible, frozen if that’s what you can get)
25 g ghee (or olive oil, if you are veganly inclined)
4 spring onions
10 baby carrots (about 175 g)
2 cloves garlic
10 asparagus spears (about 240 g before you snap off the ends)
3 tiny zucchini (about 180 g)
500 g lemon gnocchi (or plain gnocchi, and the zest of one lemon)
lavender salt (or plain salt plus some lavender or tarragon), black pepper
250 g cherry tomatoes
350 g fresh spinach (a medium-sized bunch)
a good handful of mint

ingredients

Now what will you do with it?

If your peas are fresh, start by cooking them for about 2-3 minutes in a small pan of boiling water, until they are just done.  A little on the al dente side is good.

peas

Melt the ghee in a wide skillet.  Slice the spring onions, finely chop the garlic, and peel the baby carrots, then cut them in half lengthways and in half again across.  Add to the ghee, and sauté over medium heat until the carrot begins to soften.  This will not take long.

carrot

Halve your zucchini lengthways, and slice them.  Snap off the ends of your asparagus spears, and chop them into 3 cm lengths.  Add to the pan together, along with the lavender salt and pepper, and the gnocchi.

asparaguszucchini

Raise the heat, and push everything around the pan a bit – you want to get some colour on the gnocchi and the zucchini.

goldengnoch

(I found that the lemon gnocchi were so soft and melting that they had a tendency to disintegrate, so you might want to pull them out at this point and add them back in at the end.  Frankly, they taste so good that a bit of disintegration is fine with me, but it doesn’t do their looks much justice.)

lemongnocchi

Halve or quarter the cherry tomatoes and add to the pan, along with the peas.  Sauté until the tomatoes are just beginning to release some juices.

tomato

Chop the spinach leaves and add to the pan, where they will look like way too much spinach.

spinach

Stir until they wilt.

spinach2

Chop the mint leaves, and add at the last possible minute, stirring just enough to distribute them through the mixture.

mint

Serve at once.  This serves about three people, and it does not need cheese.

dinner1

If you are lucky enough to have a blueberry pie in the house, it would be perfect for dessert – and and at that point, you will have eaten a whole rainbow with your dinner!

pie

Variations

Broad beans or new beans of any other kind could substitute for the peas.  You could play with other herbs, or other kinds of gnocchi (if you don’t have lemon gnocchi, follow the cooking directions – not all gnocchi likes to be sautéed – and add the lemon zest with the tomatoes).

This dish is vegan if you use oil instead of ghee (and if your gnocchi is egg-free, which this particular brand is).  It is also, obviously, nut-free.  It isn’t gluten-free with these particular gnocchi, but you could always use par-cooked diced potatoes and add them with the carrots at the start, and then add lemon zest with tomatoes for the same flavour profile.  I think it has a reasonable amount of fructose, alas, and it is not particularly low-GI, given the potato base of the gnocchi, but it’s so full of vegetables that it might be OK anyway, depending on serving size.  And peas and carrots are pretty good, now I think about it.

Basically, it’s delicious, and surprisingly healthy, and made me very happy when I made it for dinner this evening.  What more can you ask from a meal?

ghee

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