This time of year is busy.
There are a plethora things to do, presents to wrap, parties to go to, family to visit, food to eat, work to be done.
That's why it was a pleasant surpise when I found some spare time the other day. I had nothing to do for a whole afternoon and so I was able to collect my thoughts, put on some music and enjoy a peaceful afternoon rolling balls of gnocchi, blissfully unaware of time and place.
I decided to serve the gnocchi with a basic sauce of crispy pancetta, salty artichokes, sweet peas and lovely vino cotto. Delish.
Ricotta Gnocchi with Artichokes, Peas and Pancetta
750g fresh ricotta (low fat has less moisture so is perfect for this recipe)
300g parmesan cheese, grated, plus extra to serve
3 eggs, lightly beaten
3 cups plain flour sifted, plus extra for dusting
2 cups frozen baby peas
3 thickly cut slices of pancetta, cut into chunky cubes
300g jar of whole artichokes, in brine not oil
2 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
3 tablespoons verjuice
2 tablespoons vino cotto - (Maggie Beer has great products for both the vino cotto and verjuice)
Handful of fresh marjoram and mint leaves
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper
To make the gnocchi combine the ricotta, flour, eggs, parmesan cheese and a bit of salt in a bowl. Mix until well combined and a sticky, doughy consistency is achieved.
Whack the dough on a floured benchtop and lightly knead for a few minutes until a large ball is formed. Cut the ball into quarters, and then half each quarter.
Grab one section of the dough and roll out with the palm of your hands to form a long log like shape, about 1.5cm thick. Now with a knife cut the log up into 2cm portions. With each little portion of dough, roll into a small ball. Now get the ball and lightly roll down the back of a fork with your finger. Repeat the rolling and cutting of the dough until all of the sections of dough have been used up. If you can't be bothered, you can skip this step and instead just leave the sections of dough as little pillows but I think it's nice to make them the traditional way.
Place each gnocchi ball on a lightly floured tray and cover with a damp tea towel before boiling.
Now onto the sauce - in a saucepan over a medium high heat place the olive oil, pancetta cubes and garlic. Fry until the pancetta is golden. Add the artichokes, verjuice, vino cotto and a bit of salt and pepper to the pan and cook to reduce the sauce a little.
Meanwhile get a huge pot of water onto the boil to cook the gnocchi. The gnocchi only takes about 4 minutes, but you know when it's ready when the balls float to the surface. While the gnocchi is cooking, chuck the marjoram, mint and baby peas to the saucepan. When the gnocchi is cooked, transfer from boiling pot to saucepan with sauce with a slotted spoon and gently stir to coat the balls.
Serve with lots of parmesan and some leftover fresh mint and marjoram leaves.