Fresh Fava Gnocchi with Parmesan Cream

I’ve decided to take the plunge and submit this dish to Ruth for Presto Pasta Night. Goodness knows we eat enough pasta around here, so this may become a regular thing. Who knows?

So I had all that leftover fava-potato-scallion puree from making the raviolis earlier in the week. It had far too much flavor to let go to waste, and merely using it as a spread for crostini seemed like a bit of a cop-out, not to mention that there was enough to cover about 2 loaves of bread. My first thought was soup, but Jeremy isn’t a soup fan, and the weather really isn’t right for it. I considered risotto, but that seemed like an awful lot of starch in one place. Jeremy came to my rescue, though, and made the suggestion of fava gnocchi.

Shaping gnocchi
Grubby-looking, aren’t they?

I’ve made ricotta gnocchi once, and once I ordered potato gnocchi with cheese sauce in a restaurant. Both times the gnocchi seemed light yet simultaneously almost too heavy and rich to eat more than a few bites. Plus, they seem to have a very mushy texture that coats the roof of your mouth like spackle, so I’ve been a little reluctant to try my hand at them again. But I couldn’t let my fava puree go to waste, and I had to admit that gnocchi seemed like the ideal use for it.

Fava gnocchi ready to eat

I based my gnocchi on a variety of recipes using potato or sweet pea puree. The dough was very soft, so I used a light hand with it, but it shaped beautifully on the back of a fork as long as I kept the pieces lightly coated with flour. They came out oddly pale for all that green glory in puree form, but it probably didn’t help that I served them with a very light Parmesan cream sauce. We were both a bit surprised by how much we liked these gnocchi, despite that characteristic mushiness. Somehow they didn’t seem as rich as the ones we’ve had before—I very nearly finished my plateful, and Jeremy went back for seconds. His comments? “These are the best gnocchi I’ve ever had.” “This was a good idea of mine.” “These are kind of like something they’d make on Iron Chef.” As for myself, I was just tickled that they came out looking and acting like honest-to-goodness gnocchi.

Fava gnocchi ready to eat

Fresh Fava Gnocchi with Parmesan Cream

This recipe was a matter of trial and error. I had about 2 cups of fava-potato-scallion puree, very thick and rather pasty, already seasoned and enriched with a few tablespoons of butter and a bit of goat cheese. I added the egg because I thought it might foment a lighter texture, and I incorporated flour just a bit at a time until I had something that seemed like the descriptions Marcella gave in Essentials. My recommendation is to (very gently) knead as little flour into the dough as you can, but use lots of bench flour when shaping to prevent sticking. My gnocchi absorbed most of their surface flour while I waited for the water to reach a boil, so some of them wanted to stick to each other and the plate a bit, and I ended up having to transfer them one or two at a time instead of just tipping the plate as I’d hoped.

2 C fava-potato puree, left over from fava ravioli filling
1 egg
About 1 C flour, plus more for shaping, as necessary

Heat salted water to boiling in a large, wide pot.

Mix together fava puree and egg. Stir 2/3 C flour gently into puree, put the remaining 1/3 C on a clean countertop and dump puree onto it. Knead very gently, just until dough comes together, remaining soft and slightly sticky. Divide dough into 8 pieces, and roll into ropes one at a time, keeping your board well floured. Cut into gnocchi-sized pieces.

With a floured plate or baking sheet at hand, use a long-tined fork to shape gnocchi as follows: Turn the fork over, pick up a piece of dough, and roll it down the tines of the fork with your thumb, letting the gnocchi fall off the end of the fork onto the plate. Don’t press too hard, and make sure the gnocchi pieces are lightly floured so that they don’t stick to the fork. You will end up with a piece of gnocchi with ridges from the tines on one side, and an indentation from your thumb on the other side, perfect for catching sauce. Shape all the gnocchi.

To cook gnocchi, drop 2 or 3 in the boiling water and wait until they float to the surface. Count to 10, remove them from the water, and taste for doneness. When you are satisfied with their doneness, drop gnocchi into the water in batches of about 2 dozen, removing with a spider or slotted spoon when done; drop briefly in a bowl of ice water, then remove to a colander to drain. Cook all the gnocchi like this. Toss with prepared sauce and garnish with Parmesan curls and a drizzle of good olive oil; or chill in refrigerator until ready to reheat by quickly sauteing in olive oil.

Parmesan Cream Sauce

1 T butter
1 T flour
1 C 1% milk
3/4 C chicken broth
1 sprig fresh rosemary, finely minced
1/2 C Parmesan cheese, grated and more for garnish
Extra virgin olive oil

Melt butter in a saucepan and mix in flour to form a roux. Meanwhile, heat milk and broth together in the microwave and stir into roux. Add rosemary and simmer over medium heat until sauce thickens to desired consistency (ie: enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon). When gnocchi are ready to dress, add Parmesan to the sauce and stir to melt; combine sauce with gnocchi and plate.

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3 thoughts on “Fresh Fava Gnocchi with Parmesan Cream

  1. July 20, 2007 at 9:35 am

    I love your post – I too have never been a major fan of gnocchi, but every once in a while I find a doozy. What a creamy wonderful looking dish this one is. I’m so glad you decided to join in Presto Pasta Night fun.

    Hope to see you often.

  2. July 20, 2007 at 9:38 am

    I’ve actually never had gnocchi before, although I see it all over the place. I’m so happy to hear that your experiment worked out so well!

  3. July 20, 2007 at 10:00 am

    Ruth, I personally could eat pasta every night of the week and twice on Sunday, so this should be the first of many Presto Pasta Nights for me.

    Deborah, gnocchi is…different. I’m still not entirely sold on it, but I really got a kick out of shaping it, so I’ll have to make it again sometime.

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