Hit the local greenmarket and whip up this beloved springtime dish from New York City’s Barbuto, owned by celebrated chef Jonathan Waxman, author of Italian, My Way: More Than 150 Simple and Inspired Recipes That Breathe New Life into Italian Classics.
I’ve never liked the renditions of gnocchi that I’ve eaten in Italy and America. They were always gummy, covered with béchamel or another yucky sauce. One day my chef, Justin, knowing of my aversion to the classic preparation, froze a batch of raw gnocchi after he had rolled them out and cut them. We had a dinner party at my house and I took the gnocchi along as an afterthought. At home, I threw the gnocchi into a sizzling hot pan with butter and olive oil, while Justin looked at me with a crazy, quizzical expression. But the gnocchi turned into crisp pillows that were tender and fluffy on the inside and golden brown and crunchy on the outside. We served them with English peas, mint and a little fresh butter. They were a hit.
We prepare gnocchi at the restaurant the same way, but we do alter the vegetables, herbs and sauce occasionally.
3 large organic russet potatoes
2 tbsp. organic all-purpose flour
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 c. thumbelina carrots, washed and stemmed
6 tbsp. (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
2 c. shelled English peas
12 fresh basil leaves
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1. Prepare the gnocchi: Steam the potatoes in a pot until cooked and tender (about 30 minutes). Remove and let cool for 2 hours. Peel the skin (this is very easy). If you have a food mill or ricer, rice the potatoes in it, or better yet, pass the potatoes through a fine-mesh sieve. Rice the potatoes onto a lightly floured marble or wood surface. Dust the potatoes with the flour and dribble 1 tablespoon of the olive oil on top. Very gently form a soft dough, making sure not to overwork it or it will be tough. Do this for 2–3 minutes and let the mass rest. Roll the dough into 1-inch-diameter tubes. With a paring knife cut the gnocchi into 1-inch lengths. Then roll each gnocchi over the tines of a fork to create slight grooves. When the gnocchi are finished, freeze them for at least 1 hour and up to 1 month.
2. Cook the carrots in simmering water for 20 minutes. Cool and cut into bite-size pieces.
3. Cook the gnocchi: Heat the butter and the remaining olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the butter and oil are almost golden, add the frozen gnocchi and sauté for 3 minutes, moving them around so all sides start to darken.
4. Add the peas and carrots and continue to cook for 2 minutes. Toss in the basil leaves and season with sea salt and black pepper.
Serves 4 as a first course
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jonathan Waxman first stepped into the culinary scene in 1970 when he retired from his career as a professional trombonist to enroll in the La Varenne cooking school in Paris. After working at the prestigious Chez Panisse alongside Alice Waters, he brought New American cuisine to New York City by opening the restaurants Jams and Washington Park. Today, he is the chef-owner of the Big Apple’s Barbuto, an Italian brasserie.