This morning I was on ABC Radio in Perth talking to Jessica Strutt about Slow Food and telling stories about how my family came to Australia from Italy and grew and preserved as much food as they could. I got asked a lot of questions about how I think about food and it forced me to really process what Slow Food means to me. Knowing how busy life can be with a toddler and part time work, my advice about cooking is try and source ingredients that are as ethically grown and produced as you can afford. Don’t be too hard on yourself, you don’t need to make every meal a ‘slow food’ moment. You can start by making things from scratch at first once a month, or only the weekends. You don’t need every meal to be completely handmade, but when you have the time to do it… take the time and do it. You will be well rewarded with an explosion of flavour that is unlike your busy midweek meals.
This thinking led me to find the time today to post this recipe. This can definitely be classed as slow food as hand making gnocchi is definitely an investment of time and consideration. In fact, it is the perfect weekend task. The gnocchi has blanched asparagus puree added to the dough for a perfectly fresh and flavourful base. It’s the perfect vehicle to feature shavings of earthy truffles which were a very generous gift from Splendid Valley Truffles located in Denmark, Western Australia.
Truffles infuse their rich, earthy flavour into whatever they are cooked with, which makes them the perfect star of the dish. They shouldn’t be paired with other strong flavours or the incredible taste will be lost. Opting for brown butter and fresh greens, this dish chooses to feature the truffle in the best way possible. But don’t worry if you can’t get your hands on a truffle (and lets face it, they are uber expensive and only available when in season) just sauté some pancetta or bacon in the brown butter before serving instead! You will still have an incredibly delicious dish.
Asparagus Gnocchi with Burnt Butter, Pea and Truffle
- 850g Desiree potatoes
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 - 1 1/4 cup 00 flour
- 1 bunch asparagus, roughly chopped
- 100g butter
- 1 cup peas
- 1 large handful fresh wild rocket
- 1/4 cup grated Romano cheese
- Fresh black truffle, shaved
Place potatoes in their jackets into a large pot of cold salted water and then heat and boil for 40-50 minutes. While the potatoes are cooking, steam the asparagus for 6 minutes. Once cooked, puree the asparagus. You should have 1/4 cup asparagus puree.
Drain the potatoes from the water and then peel them once they are cool enough to handle (the peels should pull away easily). Pass the potatoes through a potato ricer or mash well with a potato masher and combine with the egg yolk, asparagus puree and season well with salt. Start adding the flour a little at a time mixing well until the flour is incorporated and a soft dough forms. Transfer to a bench once halfway through adding the flour and continue to add the flour, kneading as you do. The dough should not be tacky but should be pliable and soft. You may need a little less flour, or a little more flour depending on the potatoes. You want to add as much flour as the dough needs to get to the right consistency.
Roll the dough into a log and cut a one inch piece. Flour your bench top and roll the cut piece between your fingers to the diameter of a 10 cent piece (it will look like a long snake). Cut into small pillow like portions (about 1 inch long) and roll the pieces in a little flour on the bench so the cut edges are coated. Then, using your index finger place a dent in each gnocchi and place on a lightly floured tray covered with baking paper. Repeat the process with the remaining dough.
If you want to freeze the gnocchi for later, you can do that this step and then boil it straight from frozen when ready to cook.
To prepare the dish, heat a large heavy based saucepan over medium high heat and also bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Gently add the gnocchi to the salted boiling water and leave to cook. Wait until the gnocchi have gently risen to the surface one by one and then continue cooking for another two minutes.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in the frypan and cook until it starts to browns and begins smelling nutty. Add the peas and stir until cooked, then turn off the heat and set the pan aside. Using a hand sieve carefully lift the gnocchi from the pot, draining it from the water, and transfer to the frypan with the burnt butter. Add the rocket and Romano cheese and toss well to combine. Serve immediately with more grated Romano, freshly ground black pepper and shavings of fresh black truffle.