About six months ago I began compiling a list of recipes I wanted to make that I thought the blog readers (as in YOU) would enjoy. Some I’d made before, some were inspired by dishes I’d tried in restaurants, and some were simply recipes I’d come across in magazines.
This recipe for Parisienne gnocchi was at the top of the list. I had only made it once before in culinary school but it stuck with me because of how simple it was to prepare and how great and versatile the flavors were.
I remember being surprised when I first read the recipe years ago. “This isn’t gnocchi,” was my reaction, seeing as it wasn’t made from potatoes like traditional Italian gnocchi is. I later learned that Parisienne gnocchi is made from a pâte à choux dough, similar to one used in profiteroles or cream puffs, and yields light and fluffy dumplings that are just delicious.
Today I finally got the courage to tackle my shelf of overstuffed binders leftover from my culinary schools days and found the recipe. I didn’t change it aside from substituting minced garlic scapes and basil for tarragon and chives, but basically you can use any combination of fresh herbs (I’m thinking rosemary and mint next time).
In case you’re not familiar with them, garlic scapes are green curly stalks that grow from the garlic bulb. Farmer’s cut them off so that the garlic bulbs can continue to grow and become plump. They’re only available for a short time in the Spring and have a strong garlic flavor that isn’t as potent as the bulbs.
This really is a terrific recipe. I served it with Dorie Greenspan’s Garlic Scape and Almond Pesto (I’d bought a big bag of garlic scapes at the farmer’s market), but feel free to use any type of light sauce (i.e. white wine, butter, etc.). However, I really liked the gnocchi with the pesto, especially because I used garlic scapes in both. The garlic flavor of Dorie’s pesto was strong but not harsh, and it helped to thin out the pesto with equal parts gnocchi cooking liquid.
And the best part is most of the work can be done in advance, making Parisienne Gnocchi with Garlic Scape Pesto ideal for entertaining! The gnocchi even freezes well.
Here are the recipes:
Parisienne Gnocchi, serves 4
3/4 cup water
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 large eggs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons minced fresh herbs (used 1 tablespoon each garlic scapes and basil; can use any herb such as basil, chives, rosemary, mint, etc.)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup sliced mushrooms or spring peas (optional)
3/4 cup garlic scape pesto (see below) or a light butter sauce
1 tablespoon thinly sliced fresh basil (optional)
Combine the water and butter in a medium-sized pot. Set it over medium heat and bring the liquid to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the flour using a wooden spoon. Stir until it forms a paste and the flour is completely incorporated.
Gently beat the eggs in a small bowl. Once the pot has cooled a bit (you don’t want to cook the eggs), slowly pour in the eggs and mix into the dough. Add the cheese, herbs and mustard and blend well. Spoon the dough into a pastry bag or large Ziploc bag and refrigerate until well-chilled, about 1 hour.
Set a pot of salted water over medium-high heat so that it simmers. Also have a small strainer nearby and line a cutting board or baking sheet with paper towels.
Once the dough has chilled, cut off a corner of the bag to make a dime-sized hole, then squeeze out 1/2-inch of dough using your left hand and cut it with a paring knife in your right hand over a pot of simmering salted water. Working in batches, cook the gnocchi for 2 to 3 minutes (cook about 1 1/2 minutes after the gnocchi float to the top of the water) then drain with the strainer and let dry on a paper towel. Reserve some of the cooking water.
If you’re not planning on eating the gnocchi right away toss them with a bit of olive oil and refrigerate or freeze.
To finish the gnocchi, set a large saute pan over medium-high heat and pour in 1 tablespoon olive oil. If using a vegetable such as sliced mushrooms or peas, add them to the pan and saute for 1 minute, then add the gnocchi. Cook until hot and lightly seared, about 2 minutes. Pour 3/4 cup reserved cooking water into the pan and simmer for 30 seconds. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the garlic scape pesto or another sauce.
Divide the gnocchi between four plates and garnish with fresh herbs.
Dorie Greenspan’s Garlic Scape and Almond Pesto (adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s blog to include 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice)
10 garlic scapes, chopped
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup toasted slivered almonds
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Combine the garlic scapes, Parmesan cheese and almonds in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until ground. With the motor running drizzle in the olive oil until well-blended. Season to taste with salt and lemon juice.
To serve with pasta or Parisienne gnocchi, combine the pesto with equal parts hot cooking water.