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This is my version of a gnocchi primavera. Primavera is the Italian word for “spring” and that is exactly what this dish tastes like – spring on a plate. Every Tuesday, I go to my local market in Le Bugue and look around at what catches my eye and then I plan dinner for the next two days based on what I find. This week, it was an explosion of spring vegetables. The asparagus were gorgeous, beautiful white spears and that I decided would be the base of my dish. The same stall had fresh peas, a real treat so I could not pass that up and the pasta stall at the end of the market had plump, fat, fresh potato gnocchi. It was an easy decision: I would make gnocchi with asparagus, peas, fava beans, bacon and a touch of cream and parmesan. In my mind, everything tastes better with lardons or bacon but if you do not agree with me, and I know that there are a few of you out there, feel free to leave it out.
When buying asparagus, you want to look for firm stems with tightly closed tops. To trim stems, all you need to do is to break off or cut the dry, fibrous ends. If you use the larger white asparagus, as I have done, then you need to peel the base of the stems. This is not necessary with smaller green asparagus. In France, at the market you often have a choice between regular fava beans and larger ones for soup. These are easy to peel without blanching first. With smaller ones you need to blanch them quickly in boiling water first so they peel easier. The same goes for frozen ones, boil for a few seconds then they pop out of the peel very easily.
Celebrate spring with farm-fresh asparagus and sweet peas tossed with tender potato gnocchi and crisp bacon – who can resist?

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Serves 4
Ingredients:

  • 450 g / 1 pound gnocchi
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 150 g / 5 oz pancetta or bacon, chopped 
  • 1 large shallot, finely diced
  • 450 g / 1 pound white asparagus, trimmed, cut on diagonal into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 cup shelled fresh green peas, blanched 1 minute in boiling water, drained, or frozen peas (do not thaw)
  • 1 cup fava beans
  • 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley or chives
  • 1/2 cup grated or shaved Parmesan cheese for serving

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Preparation:

Place fava beans in a large pot of boiling water, cook 1 minute
Drain, rinse with cold water, drain well
Remove tough outer skins from beans
Place the asparagus in a pot of boiling water and cook for 4 to 10 minutes depending on thickness
When nearly tender, add peas for the last minute or two
Drain well
Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium high heat
Add the pancetta, bacon or lardons and the shallot and sauté until crisp
Add the peas, fava beans and asparagus and ensure all well coated
Pour in the heavy cream, do not allow to boil, set aside
In a large pot, boil water and cook the gnocchi according to the package instructions – the gnocchi are done about 1 to 2 minutes after they float to the surface – remove with a slotted spoon
Add to the skillet and toss all gently to coat
Sprinkle fresh parsley or chives and parmesan and serve immediately
Enjoy!

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