Day 7 – Ricotta Gnocchi with Broad Beans and Mint
At this time of year I look for any excuse to eat broad beans while they are firm, fresh and cheap across the country. The trouble is, I usually have to convince someone that they are a wonderful vegetable to eat.
While they may not be the most attractive looking vegetable, they do yield magnificent results if you take the time and trouble to double pod them. It’s not enough to remove them from their waxy pods the first time around – you then slip them from their tough grey skin a second time to show little green and delicately flavoured jewels.
Given all this trouble, you want to add them to a dish worthy of their delicate flavour. This ricotta gnocchi, adapted from a recipe by Adrian Richardson, more than fits the bill. They are very light and fluffy gnocchi, principally because there is hardly any flour in them. With a lick of lemon, butter and mint added to broad beans, the result should be more than enough to convince you to use broad beans more often than you do.
500g fresh ricotta (low-fat is fine); 1 egg; 100g self-raising flour; ¼ cup grated parmesan; sea salt and freshly ground black pepper; 1 kg broad beans in their pods; 100g butter; 1 large garlic clove, finely diced; 8-10 small mint leaves; juice of 1 large lemon
In a large bowl, place the ricotta, lightly beaten egg, flour, parmesan and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Use a fork to mash the ricotta and gently stir everything together until it comes together in a ball. Don’t stir it too heavily – a lightness of touch is key.
Sprinkle some extra flour on a clean benchtop and roll out the gnocchi in batches between your hands into long ropes about 1.5cm thick. Cut the dough into 2cm lengths with a sharp knife. Place the gnocchi on a floured baking sheet and cover with a clean tea towel. Set aside until you are ready to cook them.
Peel the broad beans out of their pods. Bring a saucepan of water to a gentle simmer and add the beans in one batch. Simmer for three minutes, then remove the saucepan from the stove and drain the beans well. Tip the beans into a bowl of cold water to stop them from cooking. When they are cool enough to handle, gently peel the grey skins off the beans and discard. Reserve the green beans in a bowl ready to add to the butter sauce at the last minute.
When you are ready to cook, bring a large pasta pot of lightly salted water to the boil. When the water comes to a rolling boil, drop the gnocchi, in two or three batches, into the water. As they cook, they will come to the surface of the water. Scoop them out with a slotted spoon and place them on a tray in a single layer while you finish cooking the rest.
Heat a large high-sided frypan over medium heat and add the butter. Stir or shake the pan until the butter is melted and foaming, then add the garlic. Saute for two minutes until fragrant and then add the whole mint leaves. Stir well until the mint leaves are crispy, then remove them from the butter and drain on paper towel.
Add the lemon juice to the garlic butter, then the beans and cooked gnocchi. Toss the mixture gently until the gnocchi is coated with the lemony juices.
Serve at once with the crispy mint leaves scattered over the top.
$12.45 for four people