Life’s a Feast: Light Ricotta Pillows with Fresh Asparagus

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The Remarkables Market reopened with a hiss and a roar last month and WOW! This vibrant and busy market is now even bigger and better, with a wonderful and hugely varied selection of local and regional products. Head along and be welcomed with an overwhelming choice of foodie delights along with arts, crafts, plants – you name it, they have it! The inspiration for this recipe came from the deliciously fresh asparagus I purchased from the Nevis Gardens stall at the markets. Very affordable and incredibly fresh, I will try to make it a Saturday routine to head there and purchase some beautiful products for the coming week. These simple, fast, cheat’s gnocchi are full of flavour with a taste of spring. Enjoy!

PREP TIME: 15 MINS
COOK TIME: 10-12 MINS
SERVES: 4-5 PEOPLE

Ingredients

Ricotta Pillows (Gnocchi)
1 1/2 cups ricotta
1 cup grated parmesan
1 egg at room temperature
1 egg yolk at room temperature
teaspoons salt
cup flour
1 good handful flat leaf parsley finely chopped

Sauce
250g asparagus, tough ends removed, cut into 3cm pieces
50g butter
2 cloves garlic
500ml chicken stock
2 spring onions finely sliced
3 tablespoons fresh chives
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Salt and pepper

Garnish
Chopped chives
Grated parmesan
Glug of good quality olive oil

Method

1.When you open the ricotta, you need to make sure it is drained and pat dry. It should be dry and nearly crumbly before using in this recipe. I had to pop mine in clean muslin and squeeze out excess liquid.

2.Once you have done this, pop ricotta, parmesan, egg, egg yolk, salt and parsley in a blender and pulse until combined.

3.Sprinkle over and pulse again until just combined.

4.Place a large piece of baking paper on a tray and sprinkle with a little flour. Scoop a dessert spoon (equivalent of about 2tsp) of the gnocchi mix and scrape against side of the bowl to smooth the top of the batter. Using fore-finger, push batter off spoon and let it drop on to a baking sheet. It almost creates a half-moon shape.

5.Dust the gnocchi with a little more flour.

6.Bring a large pot of water to the boil and blanch the asparagus for one minute until tender, scoop out and transfer to a pot of ice water. Drain and set aside. Keep the water in the pot to cook the gnocchi.

7.Meanwhile, add half the butter and garlic into a medium-sized pot and soften a little on a medium heat. Next pour in the stock and bring up to a simmer.

8.Bring the large pot of water back to the boil and add in the dumplings, one by one so they don’t crush. Stir gently and occasionally for about 4 minutes and till they are floating on the surface.

9.Gently transfer to the sauce, combine and cook until it has thickened a little, around 2-3 minutes.

10.Add back in asparagus, chives, spring onion, lemon juice and the remainder of the butter and combine gently to warm the asparagus. Taste and season if required.

11.Serve evenly between 4 bowls. Sprinkle with chives, parmesan and salt and pepper, then drizzle with a little olive oil.