Spring Veggie Saute with Herbed Ricotta Gnocchi

This recipe was originally called a spring stew, but to me that’s gotta be an oxymoron.   A stew conjures up a slow-cooked meaty dish that just becomes better with time, and in my humble opinion, no fresh springtime veggie dish should qualify as a stew.  This is more of a sauté; a beautiful mélange of fresh spring veggies, tossed together with homemade herbed ricotta gnocchi and lightly dressed with olive oil, lemon, and a sprinkling of grated parmesan.  Oh my.  So, so good.

This just tastes like spring in a bowl, people.  And don’t be scared off by the idea of making these gnocchi.  They’re really easy, and you can make them way ahead of time and freeze them if you want.

They come out light and fluffy and really are the star of this dish.

It's all about fresh and light here, so use whatever veggies are available and have fun with it!  I used fresh asparagus, spriing onions, edamame, zucchini and artichoke hearts.  I would love to make it with baby artichokes next time.

This is a keeper, folks...the perfect recipe to showcase all that your farmer's market has to offer right now.  Bon Apetit!

Spring Veggie Saute with Herbed Ricotta Gnocchi

Printable Recipe

Adapted from a recipe in the L.A. Times

2-3 lbs of fresh vegetables (asparagus, zucchini, shelled fava beans, fresh peas, artichokes, etc.)

½  lb bulbing or spring onions

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

2 Tablespoons minced shallots

1/2 cup white wine

1/4 cup water

2 tsps minced tarragon or parsley


Herbed ricotta gnocchi (see recipe below)

Grated Parmigiano- Reggiano cheese

1.  Prepare the artichokes (cut the baby ones into halves or if using large artichokes, clean and cut the hearts into quarters.

2. 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.

2. 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, zucchini and other veggies to the pan along with the bulbing onions and sauté for 5 to 10 minutes or until tender.  Add the asparagus tips and the herbs 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 vegetables.

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, squeeze some lemon juice over the top and divide among 6 heated pasta bowls. Sprinkle with grated Parmigiano and pass more at the table. Serve immediately.

Herbed ricotta gnocchi

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.

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.