The classic summer flavours of basil and peas come together in this perfect summer dinner: Basil Gnocchi with Peas and Pancetta. The basil and peas are light and combine with the salty pork and fluffy gnocchi perfectly. You can make the basil gnocchi on the weekend and freeze them for a quick dinner during the week.
Prep Time: 50 minutes | Cook Time: 1 hour 10 minutes | Total Time: 2 hours
- 2 large russet potatoes, baked (approx. 2 cups)
- 3/4 cup flour, or more depending on the moisture of the potatoes
- 2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 egg
For the basil puree:
- 2 cups fresh basil leaves
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup Pancetta, diced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup fresh peas (frozen works too)
- 1 tablespoon butter
- Parmesan cheese, for garnish
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Wash the potatoes thoroughly with water to remove any dirt and dry. Place the potatoes on a foil-lined baking tray and prick with a fork, to allow steam to escape during the baking process. Bake the potatoes for 50-60 minutes, depending on the size of the potatoes, or until soft in the center.
Let the potatoes cool slightly until you are able to handle them. Remove the flesh of the potatoes and place in a large mixing bowl. Grate the potatoes using the rough side of a box grater into the bowl. If you are lucky enough to have a potato ricer, press the dough through the ricer instead, as this creates lighter, fluffier gnocchi. Tip: Working with warm (i.e. not cold) potatoes during this step will make the grating much easier and create fluffier gnocchi.
Next, make the basil puree. Add the basil leaves, olive oil and salt to a food processor and blend until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the food processor periodically to ensure that all the leaves get processed. Alternatively, if you do not have a food processor, simply chop the basil into very fine pieces using a knife and add directly into the dough (see below).
Add the flour, salt, pepper and basil puree to the grated potato and mix until just combined (a few small lumps at this stage are okay). Make a well in the middle of the mixture, add the egg and combine slowly, until the dough comes together into a smooth ball. If the dough is too sticky (like so sticky that it’s stuck everywhere), add more flour 1/4 cup at a time. Do not overwork the dough. If you have trouble rolling out the dough, add some flour to your hands and work surface- this will make rolling out the dough much easier!
Cut the dough into quarters. Working with one piece at a time, roll the dough out on the counter to form a long snake-like shape that is roughly 3 centimeters thick. Using a sharp, floured knife, cut the long piece of dough into pieces roughly 2 centimeters in width.
You can boil the gnocchi as is, or you can add grooves to the gnocchi. The grooves on the gnocchi allow them to pick up more sauce when cooked. To add grooves, you can use a gnocchi roller, pressing the dough into the board using your thumb and rolling down, allowing the dough to fold over itself and into the traditional gnocchi shape. If you do not have this kitchen gadget, you can create grooves using the back of a fork. To do this, flour the fork and using your thumb, press the dough into the tines of the fork. Roll the dough down the tines, pressing slightly to imprint the grooves into the dough. Repeat for the remaining dough.
To cook the gnocchi, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add salt to season the water.
While you are waiting for the water to boil, fry the pancetta. Add the pancetta and olive oil to a skillet over medium-high heat and fry until crispy, approximately 4-6 minutes. Remove the pancetta from the skillet and place on a plate to cool. Do not discard the fat and oil left in the pan- this is what we will fry the gnocchi in afterwards!
Once the water comes to a rolling boil, add the gnocchi and stir to ensure they do not stick together. Simmer for 2-3 minutes, or until the gnocchi float to the top. Frozen gnocchi will take a bit longer to cook, about 4-6 minutes. Once the gnocchi begin to float, continue cooking for 1 minute.
Next, scoop out the cooked gnocchi from the pot of water using a slotted spoon and add directly to the hot skillet. Fry the gnocchi for 2-3 minutes per side over medium-high heat until a golden crust forms. If there is not enough oil for frying, add another tablespoon of olive oil. With the same pot of boiling water, add the peas and cook for 2-4 minutes until they are bright green and cooked through. Once the peas are cooked add them directly into the skillet with the golden gnocchi along with the pancetta and butter. Mix all the ingredients together to combine.
Place the gnocchi on plates and top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Serve right away and enjoy!