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Recipe: Spring vegetable stew with herbed ricotta gnocchi

Total time: 1 hour and 20 minutes

Servings: 6

Note: This gnocchi recipe is adapted from one by Lidia Bastianich. Drain the ricotta in the refrigerator at least 1 hour before making the gnocchi, to remove any excess water. The dough can be made several hours in advance (once cut, the gnocchi can even be frozen and then cooked without thawing), but the gnocchi should be cooked at the last minute. Bulbing onions are a spring specialty that look like common scallions, but with swollen bases; they can be found at farmers markets and Mexican groceries.

Herbed ricotta gnocchi

1 (15- or 16-ounce) container whole milk ricotta, drained

1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

1/3 cup minced parsley

2 teaspoons salt

1 egg, lightly beaten

3/4 to 1 cup flour, plus more for rolling

1. In a large bowl, stir together the ricotta, Parmigiano, parsley, salt and egg until the mixture is smooth and well-combined. Add three-fourths cup flour and continue stirring until it is fully incorporated. Continue to stir in the flour, a tablespoon or 2 at a time, until the mixture forms a soft dough that holds together but may feel slightly damp; this should take a total of about 1 cup of flour. Remove the dough from the bowl and knead it on a lightly floured board until the dough is smooth, pliable and a little sticky.

2. To shape the gnocchi, divide the dough into quarters. Flour your hands lightly (do not flour the work surface). Working with 1 piece at a time, use both hands to roll out the piece of dough with a light back-and-forth motion into a rope about one-half- to three-fourths-inch thick. Cut the roll into 1-inch pieces. Line a jellyroll pan with a lightly floured tea towel and transfer the gnocchi to it. Sprinkle lightly with flour and refrigerate for at least 10 minutes.

3. Hold a fork with its tines against the work surface, the curved part of the fork facing away from you. Starting from the bottom of the tines of the fork, press each piece of dough with your index finger firmly upward along the length of the tines, then let the gnocchi fall back onto the work surface. Repeat with the remaining dough until all the gnocchi have been formed. Return the gnocchi to the jellyroll pan and set aside until ready to use.

Spring vegetable stew and assembly

Juice of 1/2 lemon

2 pounds baby or medium artichokes

1 cup shelled fava beans (about 1 1/2 pounds in the pod)

2 pounds asparagus

1/2 pound bulbing onions

1/4 cup butter ( 1/2 stick), divided

2 tablespoons minced shallots

1/2 cup white wine

1/4 cup water

2 teaspoons minced tarragon

Salt

Herbed ricotta gnocchi

Grated Parmigiano- Reggiano

1. Clean the artichokes: Fill a large bowl with cool water and add the lemon juice. Trim away each artichoke's tough outer leaves, then cut off the top half-inch of the tip and peel the base and stem. Quarter the baby artichokes and cut the larger artichokes lengthwise into 8 pieces. Keep the artichokes submerged in the lemon water to prevent browning and set aside.

2. Place the shelled fava beans in a large bowl and pour boiling water over to cover. Let stand until the water is cool enough to touch. Use your thumbnail to cut a slit in the thin membrane surrounding each fava and squeeze the bright green bean halves into a bowl. Discard the membranes. Repeat with all the favas and set aside.

3. Cut the tough bases and tender tips from the asparagus and reserve the tips (discard the bases). Peel the asparagus and cut crosswise into 1-inch sections.

4. Trim the roots and most of the green stems of the bulbing onions and halve them lengthwise.

5. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium heat and add the shallots. Cook until the shallots soften, about 3 minutes. Add the artichokes, the white wine and water, cover tightly and cook until the artichokes are just tender enough to pierce with a paring knife, 5 to 15 minutes (the time will vary depending on the freshness and type of the artichoke).

6. Add the chopped asparagus stalks, replace the cover and cook until they are tender, about 3 minutes. Stir in the bulbing onions, the asparagus tips and the tarragon and cook until the tips are bright green and tender, about 3 minutes. Season to taste with salt and reduce the heat to low to keep warm.

7. Bring a wide pot of water to a rolling boil and salt generously. Reduce the heat to a slow boil and add the gnocchi to the pot (reducing the heat helps keep the gnocchi from breaking up). Stir gently to lift them from the bottom of the pot and cook until they float to the surface, 1 to 2 minutes, then cook them an additional 20 to 30 seconds and retrieve them with a strainer, transferring them directly to the vegetable stew.

8. Increase the heat under the stew to high and add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Stir gently to coat the gnocchi with the glaze and divide among 6 heated pasta bowls. Sprinkle grated Parmigiano over the top and pass more at the table. Serve immediately.

Each serving: 492 calories; 25 grams protein; 53 grams carbohydrates; 8 grams fiber; 21 grams fat; 13 grams saturated fat; 98 mg. cholesterol; 974 mg. sodium.

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
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