Sunday, April 11, 2010

Potato Gnocchi with Peas, Prosciutto and Ricotta

On Easter Sunday, my dad and his girlfriend Mary came over for dinner.  Wanting to stick close to my Italian roots for this year, we went with a simple beef roast and two sides.  Simple and light for this spring meal.  My first instinct was some type of pasta but that can get a bit old.  I wanted something that was simple but would make a real statement. 

While sitting with my computer on my lap searching for recipes, it hit me.  In the background an episode of Tyler Florence's Ultimate was on.  He mentioned Potato Gnocchi with Peas, Prosciutto and Ricotta.  I thought this was definitely the first of the sides.

This was my first venture into the world of gnocchi.  I have to say that even though there was several steps to the process it could not have been more simple.  I baked the potatoes, baked the prosciutto and made the ricotta ahead of time so everything went together quickly.

Please, please, please try this recipe if you like any type of dumplings.  Don't let the length of this recipe intimidate you.  These are so easy and so worth it!

2 pounds (about 4) russet potatoes, or similar starchy/white variety
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 egg white
1 to 1 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups frozen peas, thawed
¼ pound prosciutto
1 large shallot, finely diced
Extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon butter
Grated Parmesan

2 cups Lemon Ricotta, recipe follows

1. Preheat oven to 350˚F. Scrub potatoes, pierce the skin with a fork, drizzle with olive oil and salt and place on a sheet pan. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour until they are easily pierced with a pairing knife.
2. Allow the potatoes to cool slightly then peel the potatoes while they are still hot and press them through a potato ricer or food mill.
3. Put the potatoes in a large bowl with salt, nutmeg, baking powder, grated cheese and egg white.
4. Add the flour a little at a time and mix with your hands until the mixture forms a rough dough. Do not over-work the dough.
5. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface. Gently knead the dough for 1 or 2 minutes until smooth, adding a little bit more flour, if necessary, to keep it from sticking.
6. Break off a piece of the dough and roll it back and forth into a rope, about the thickness of your index finger. Cut the rope into 1-inch pieces. Gently roll each piece down the prongs of a fork while pressing a small dimple with your finger in the back.
7. The gnocchi should be slightly curved and marked with ridges. This will allow the pillows to hold sauce when served. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 12 hours.
8. Boil the gnocchi in batches in plenty of salted water. The gnocchi are done about 2 minutes after they float to the surface, remove with a slotted spoon. Reserve about ½ cup cooking water. If not cooking immediately, place the gnocchi in a single layer on a baking pan dusted with flour.

Note: If the gnocchi start to feather and fall apart in boiling water, you need more flour. If the gnocchi don't float after 2 minutes and are hard, you used too much flour.

9. Blanch peas in hot water and set aside.
10. Place 4 strips of prosciutto on a sheet pan and place in a preheated 350 degree F oven. Cook until the it is crispy, 8 to 10 minutes.
11. Add chopped shallots to a pan over medium high heat with 2 counts of olive oil pan of and gently saute until fragrant and translucent. Dump in the peas and toss gently to coat. Season with a little salt and pepper.season Add boiled gnocchi to the pan and gently toss.
12. Add a ladle of gnocchi water to the pan, add 1 tablespoon of butter, sprinkle with Parmesan and season with salt and pepper. Serve topped with crispy prosciutto and a scoop of fresh lemon ricotta. (Optional: finish with a drizzle of white truffle oil)

Lemon Ricotta:
2 cups good quality ricotta cheese
1 lemon, zested and juiced

1. Place the ricotta cheese in a mixing bowl and add the lemon zest and juice. Season with salt and serve with the gnocchi.

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