Pea, crème fraiche and mint gnocchi bake  

We’re entering that complicated period of early spring where I spend the majority of my time dressed for the wrong weather. It will be sunny, you’ll think March is a warm month, you’ll go out in a jacket instead of a coat for the first time and discover those spring skies are deceptive and it is still only 7’C. The following day you’ll have learnt from your mistakes. You wrap in cashmere and a puffa coat… and slowly roast as the weather reaches unprecedented highs. Streets in March and April become a cheery mixture of people dressed for strongest summer or darkest winter – like the Mediterranean in December, when British tourists head south for festive sun and locals baulk at the idea of temperatures below 20’C. But enough weather chat – this is the dish to get you through this tricky time.

Pea, creme fraiche and mint gnocchi bake

The flavours are fresh and light – ready for spring – but baking it briefly provides that cosy warmth should it still be needed. Gnocchi is one of my favourite dishes due to being so speedy to prepare and I could cook it endlessly. Normally I drench it in pesto and bacon (which is entirely delicious) but this fresh way incorporates some extra vegetables into my diet and is just as tasty. Enjoy!

Pea, crème fraiche and mint gnocchi bake
Serves 2

  • 1 packet of gnocchi
  • 100g peas
  • 3 tbsps crème fraiche
  • handful of mint
  • cheddar, to grate

Preheat the grill to 200’C.

Boil the gnocchi and peas together for 3-4 minutes, until the gnocchi floats to the top. Drain and return to the saucepan. Add the crème fraiche, mint and generous grating of cheddar. Stir together and tip into a small baking dish.

Top with more grated cheddar and grill for 3-5 minutes, until the cheese is golden and bubbling. Enjoy!

Fried gnocchi with mozzarella and tomatoes

Occasionally a certain dish will come to dominate my cooking. Just like fashionistas going crazy for Spring trends (hi big sleeves and stripy shirts), every once in a while a recipe comes along that I will get temporarily obsessed with. There have been several instances of this over the years. When I discovered these addictive jam drops, they were temporarily all I wanted to bake. There have been my bagel and quesadilla phases at university, where they were all I ate for lunch every day for an entire term – perhaps a hangover from years of packed lunches? Every Christmas I rediscover Simon Hopkinson’s cheesy biscuits and wonder why I don’t make them all year round. Then, several years ago, I found this fried gnocchi recipe and a temporary gnocchi addiction was born. This recipe now tastes nostalgic to me for no other reason than I cooked it so many times that the processes and flavours are now inherently familiar.

Fried gnocchi with mozzarella and tomatoes

I hadn’t made this recipe for a long time – being distracted by gnocchi bakes and bacon instead – but as soon as I saw it again when I was scrolling through my ‘Savoury’ recipe file, I knew it would be gracing my lunch table again very soon. It is super simple – three ingredients, fifteen minutes and you are done. Fried gnocchi is absolutely delicious, going gorgeously golden and crispy on the outside but retaining that comforting fluffiness within. My family were all converted to this dish when we first discovered it and I know my sister still cooks it regularly – try it and see for yourself!

Fried gnocchi with mozzarella and tomatoes

Serves 2, from this Liberty London Girl recipe

  • 1 bag of gnocchi
  • ½ ball of mozzarella
  • 2 handfuls of cherry tomatoes
  • olive oil and knob of butter

Boil the gnocchi in salted water for 2-3 minutes, until it floats to the top. Meanwhile, roughly chop the mozzarella and halve the tomatoes.

Heat a frying pan with a generous glug of olive oil and knob of butter. Drain the gnocchi and tip into the frying pan with the cherry tomatoes. Fry over a medium-high heat, until the tomatoes are releasing their juices and the gnocchi are forming a golden crust on the bottom – don’t stir too much. Add the mozzarella and heat until its melting and stretchy. Scrape into bowls and enjoy.

Gnocchi with peas, pesto and bacon

DSC_0132

When I start a new food habit, I tend to get quite addicted. Case in point last term when I ate a toasted bagel with cream cheese and ham for lunch every day for the entire term. That’s over 50 bagels…and why I don’t think I’ll be having another one for a long time now. To replace that habit, my latest food addiction is gnocchi…how very Cambridge of me!

DSC_0134I’ve made gnocchi from scratch twice before: once at home where it went strangely grey and stretchy, and once during cookery school where I learnt to make it properly and it was delicious. With my extremely limited kitchen here at uni, I don’t think I’ll be having a go at scratch again anytime soon but shop bought it makes the perfect speedy meal. It takes just two minutes to cook like ravioli or tortellini, but you have so many more options of making it your own (and feeling like I’m actually doing some cooking).

My current favourite is this dish, with peas, bacon and plenty of pesto. Frozen peas are my failsafe way to make sure I get vegetables – I’m like a parent tricking a toddler into getting their five a day. The combination altogether is so good – sweet peas, salty crispy bacon, herby pesto and the soft gnocchi carbs just soaking up all those flavours. I have had this for lunch or dinner more times than I care to admit over the last few weeks…enjoy!

Gnocchi with peas, pesto and bacon

These quantities serve one (student living!) but are obviously super easy to double up as needed.

  • 2 slices of bacon
  • 250g of gnocchi (normally 1/2 a bag)
  • 80g of frozen peas (that’s how many you need to count as one of your five a day!)
  • 3tbsps pesto

Fry the bacon until crispy then cut into small strips. Meanwhile, microwave or boil the frozen peas for 3 minutes until cooked. Boil the gnocchi for 2-3 minutes until it floats to the top of the pan. Drain, then return to the pan with the other ingredients. Stir together briefly over the heat to warm the pesto through, then serve and enjoy!