No reverie on Rome (just one of the cities that inspired our Spring Collection) would be complete without a delicious meal—and Diane’s amazing chef, world traveler, and cookbook author Jane Coxwell has created a recipe to help us channel the Eternal City from the comfort of our own kitchens. Perfect for an intimate dinner party, this Fresh Herb and Lemon Zest Gnocchi with a Baby Fennel, Artichoke and Pecorino Salad will satisfy your guests’ palettes–and their wanderlust.
Fresh Herb and Lemon Zest Gnocchi
3 large Russet potatoes
1 teaspoon plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 small egg yolk
Zest from 1 lemon
A small handful basil, finely chopped
A small handful parsley, finely chopped
Maldon or other flaky salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Grated Parmesan, for serving
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Use a fork to prick a few holes in each potato and rub each potato with a little olive oil. Place the potatoes on a baking sheet and bake them for just over an hour, or until the skin is crispy and the inside is soft.
3. Scoop the flesh from each potato and pass it through a sieve over a large bowl. This is called “ricing”—some people use a ricer, but a sieve will work just fine (by the way, if you want to impress people with light, smooth mashed potatoes, this is how to do it).
4. Add the flour, egg yolk, lemon zest, herbs, salt, and pepper to the potatoes and combine. Taste the mixture to test the seasoning. It may be a little lemony, but that’ll calm down when it’s cooked—you’re only testing for seasoning at this point.
5. Use your hands to work the mixture together—the best gnocchi are light, so don’t over work it, but it is important that it’s all evenly incorporated, so knead it for about a minute. You’ll know when it’s done when you have a mixture that holds together when you make a ball out of it. Test a piece on your clean counter top—if it sticks or falls apart, add just a little flour.
6. Take a handful of the mixture and roll it into a sausage shape on your counter. When it is about as wide as an average thumb, use a knife to cut it into about 1-inch pieces. Then, using a fork, make little indentations in the top. (This helps the gnocchi pick up any sauce or olive oil it’s served with, and it’ll make you look like pro.) Repeat with the rest of the mixture.
7. Dust a baking sheet with flour and spread the gnocchi on it. Place the gnocchi on the tray and refrigerate for about 5 minutes to chill and firm.
8. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Drop the gnocchi in the water. They will take about 2 minutes to cook; they’ll tell you when they’re done because they’ll pop to the surface.
9. Heat a sauté pan with 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil. Drain the gnocchi and add them to a hot sauté pan. Carefully toss around in the hot oil for about 30 seconds and serve immediately, topped with a little grated Parmesan.
Baby Artichoke, Fennel, and Pecorino Salad
Handful of pine nuts
4-5 Baby Artichokes
½ Bulb of Fennel (reserve the tops)
1 Portobello Mushroom
Small handful of basil leaves, roughly chopped
Small handful of Italian parsley leaves, roughly chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
1 ½ Tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
Best quality Pecorino cheese, for shaving
1. To toast the pine nuts, move them around in a dry skillet over a medium— low heat for about 3-4 minutes, or until they are golden brown, and set aside.
2. To prep the baby artichokes: using a knife, remove the stem at the base of the artichoke and about 1/3 of the top of the artichoke. Then peel off the outer, hard leaves, until you reach the softer inner leaves with no color. Quarter the artichokes and place in a hot skillet with half a teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil, and a pinch of salt. Toss these around in the frying pan for about 4 minutes, or until nicely browned and tender, and set aside to cool.
3. To prep the mushroom: remove the stem, and then using a spoon, scoop out the dark brown under side of the mushroom called the gills, and discard. Slice the mushroom as thin as you can, and then place in a bowl.
4. Slice the fennel as fine as you can, or you could use a mandolin. Use only the bulb and not the stalky upper parts. Add the sliced fennel to the bowl with the mushrooms along with a small handful of the leaves of the fennel.
5. Using a vegetable peeler, shave about a handful of the pecorino cheese into the bowl.
6. Then add the fennel and mushrooms, the chopped herbs, the pine nuts and the artichokes, along with the juice of half a lemon, a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, a small squeeze of agave nectar and salt and pepper. Toss very gently with your hands and serve almost immediately.
Photos: Katie Osgood