This recipe for Sweet Pea Gnocchi with Tarragon Pea Cream is elegant and beautiful to serve, not to mention it tastes amazing. It's the perfect recipe to serve in spring.
Over the past 7 years, gardening has become my number one most favorite hobby. I inherited my green thumb from my Momma, who also loved getting her hands dirty and watching things grow. My thumb started out brown, and while it's still far from a pure Kelly green, the shade gets a little brighter with each passing season.
This time of year, my heart flutters at the sight of little green sprouts finding their way out of the dirt. There's something so special (not to mention convenient) about waltzing barefoot into the backyard to pick a few fresh herbs to finish a dish, a head of lettuce for a salad, or a handful of strawberries to snack on.
I wasn't very keen on peas growing up, but they've become one of my favorite parts about spring. They're a breeze to grow from seed and they find a spot in my garden year after year. Picked at just the right time, peas taste fresh, mild and oh-so-sweet. But left on the vine a little too long, and all of that natural sugar turns to starch, making them a bit less palatable.
So the neat thing about this recipe is that you don't need to worry about picking your peas at just the right moment, because the nice folks over at the frozen pea plant have already done that for you. That's right - we're using frozen peas, and I prefer them for just that very reason. They're picked right at the perfect point of ripeness and flash frozen on the spot. So unlike fresh peas, the frozen variety is always sweet, always readily available, always inexpensive, and always consistently so.
That being said, I like to use a few fresh peas and their tendrils for garnishing. They add beautiful depth and and a nice bit of texture to the dish, not to mention a gorgeous presentation. This is a fairly humble meal, but presents itself as being much, much fancier. What a looker!
Anyone who's made gnocchi from scratch knows they're a labor of love. What you'll be saving in money, you'll be spending in time. And while the steps are by no means difficult, they are numerous, and you'll definitely dirty a few dishes in the process. But trust me, y'all. This one is worth it, one hundred percent.
We start out by roasting a few russet potatoes, they'll act as the base for the gnocchi. The peas have a fair amount of starch, but not enough to carry these little nuggets on their own. They need a bit of help, and potatoes are pro. Next, we want to make a bright emerald green puree out of the blanched peas, scallions and lemon. This is going to flavor and color both the gnocchi AND the sauce. Gotta love a 2-4-1.
After ricing the potatoes - a very important step - we add in some eggs and flour and mix it all together. But like so many other doughs we discuss on this blog, we must be careful not to over-mix. Over-mixing will cause the gnocchi to become tough and gluey, which is one of the most unappetizing things that can happen to a food. We want these to emulate pillows, not paste, so we must be mindful of our mixing.
Next we roll them out and cut them into larger-than-usual dumplings. Why? Because I want them to be decidedly different than your standard, smaller gnocchi. Chaser thinks they're too big because he has to break them in half with a fork to take a bite. I think they're fine just the way they are. I tell Chaser that when he makes his gnocchi, he can make them whatever size he wants. Same thing goes for you. (Pro tip: the bigger the gnocchi, the less work.)
While they take a quick dip in a bath of boiling salty water, we'll reduce some heavy cream with garlic and tarragon. Sir in the pea cream and lemon juice, toss the gnocchi to coat, and you're on your way to pillowy, melt-in-your-mouth sweet pea heaven.