Pan-Fried Gnocchi with Morels and Fiddleheads

Pan-Fried Gnocchi with Morels and Fiddleheads

Spring is here, and it brings with it two of my most favorite seasonal items: morels and fiddlehead ferns. At $28/lb here in Boston, fresh morels are definitely a splurge. But you only need to pick up a few to have them in this dish, and it’s well worth it to do so.

If you live in the right area, you can try your luck at finding your own in the woods right now, but as with all foraging, make sure you have the right mushroom before you eat it. It’s best to go with someone who knows what they are doing, but the locations where wild morels grow are usually carefully guarded secrets, considering the price they’ll fetch at markets. It’s easier and safer to pony-up some cash at Whole Foods, even though it’s not as adventurous.

Morels

Fiddlehead ferns are lovely. Not only are they in season at the same time morels are, they also pair really well with them. You can read a little informational post I wrote about them here. I love their tender crunch, mild flavor, and beautiful swirl. And just like morels, use them as soon as you can, they don’t store well.

The hardest part of this dish is definitely finding the morels and the fiddleheads. After that, it’s cake! I used a pre-packaged fresh gnocchi (gluten free, too!) and further simplified it by pan-frying them instead of boiling them. Boiling is easy; pan-frying is even easier, not to mention faster. You can cook up the gnocchi faster than the time it takes to boil a pot of water. Pan-frying the gnocchi gives them a wonderful color and texture. If you’ve never tried it before, you definitely should!

All the other ingredients are quick sauteed, so this makes a really delicious, fast, and easy meal with practically no fuss. And if you can’t find morels and fiddleheads, I encourage you to try the dish anyway with asparagus tips and your favorite mushroom.

Pan-Fried Gnocchi with Morels and Fiddleheads

Pan-Fried Gnocchi with Morels and Fiddleheads
Serves one filling meal, or two very light meals

2 Tbs Olive Oil, give or take
1 9-oz Package Fresh Gnocchi
3-5 Fresh Morels, halved (sub any wild mushroom)
1/3 Cup Fresh Fiddlehead Ferns, washed and dried (sub asparagus tips)
1/4 Cup Roasted Red Pepper, diced
2-3 Canned Water-Packed Artichoke Hearts, sliced
1/8 tsp Salt, plus more for seasoning
Fresh Black Pepper

Slice your morels in half and inspect them carefully for dirt and critters. Since morels are foraged for in the wild, they sometimes have surprises hiding inside. Just saying.

Heat a well-seasoned cast-iron skillet or non-stick pan over medium high heat. Add halved morels and a teaspoon or so of oil. Saute until golden brown, 2-3 minutes, adding a pinch of salt. Set aside.

Add the ferns, roasted pepper, and artichoke hearts to the pan, with a teaspoon or so more oil if needed. Add 1/8 tsp salt to season. Saute for 2-3 minutes until tender and the artichoke hearts and ferns are beginning to color. Remove from pan and set aside.

While the pan is still hot (medium-high heat), add the raw gnocchi and enough oil to coat well. Cook for 3-4 minutes until golden brown on all sides and slightly puffy. Once cooked through, add the fern/artichoke/pepper mixture back to the pan and toss gently until well combined. Season with more salt and pepper if needed.

Plate, adding the cooked morel mushrooms to the top before serving.

Pan-Fried Gnocchi with Morels and Fiddleheads

Potato Salad Two Ways

Potato Salad with Fava Beans

I never was a potato salad person. I’m not sure why. I think it’s partly because when someone else makes potato salad, you’re not exactly sure what’s in it, and it’s just this mass of white lumpy stuff. Plus, people tend to add raw onions to potato salad, which ruins it for me instantaneously.

I went to Whole Foods to look at all the pretty produce to get inspired and they had these teeny tiny new potatoes that were begging me to buy them. They were about the size of walnuts, red and yellow, and completely adorable. Yes, I totally buy food based on how adorable it is sometimes. Don’t tell anyone.

All of a sudden I knew I had to make potato salad, even though I’d never made it myself. So I asked my contacts on twitter how they liked their potato salad. I think I got 40 to 50 replies, and no consensus at all. Some people like creamy, other prefer a vinaigrette. Onions and celery ruin it for a good number of people, others can’t eat it without. The only generalization I could come up with is that people are only guaranteed to like the potato salad they make themselves, and that even one offensive ingredient can ruin the whole thing.

That’s comforting for party planning, isn’t it?

I decided to make two very simple potato salads (simple but totally tasty), one with a creamy dressing and one with a vinaigrette. That way you can each take the base recipe you prefer and then add all the pickles/celery/hot sauce/red pepper/tomatoes/onions/sweet potatoes/celery seed/relish you want!

Fresh Fava Beans

Right next to the potatoes was a huge pile of (not so adorable) fava beans. I knew they’d make a great addition to one of the salads. They’re wonderfully green and nutty, but also fleeting! Grab them fast, because they’ll be gone before you know it. If you can’t find them, use shelled fresh edamame or shelled peas.

Fava beans do require a bit of prep work, so be forewarned. You need to shuck them, then blanch them, then remove them from their seed casings. It’s not hard work, but it does require you to set some time aside.

Potato Salad with Fava Beans

Potato Salad with Fava Beans
Serves 2-4

1 1/2 to 2 lbs New potatoes, halved
1 1/2 Lbs Fresh Fava Beans, or 3/4 cup Edamame or Peas

Dressing:
1/2 Cup Vegenaise Mayonnaise*
2 tsp Dijon Mustard
2 Tbs Fresh Herbs (I used parsley and marjoram)
1/4 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Fresh Black Pepper

*This brand is highly recommended. It’s the closest to non-vegan mayo I’ve found, by far.

Whisk together the ingredients for the dressing. Refrigerate it until ready to use.

Shuck the fava beans by “unzipping” them and breaking open the pods. Blanch the whitish-green beans in boiling salted water for 2-3 minutes. Remove and rinse under cool water to stop the cooking. Use your nail to break open the seed cases and squeeze out the bright green bean. Set aside.

Boil the potatoes in well-salted water until tender but not falling apart. You can also cook them in a pressure cooker on the second ring for 4 minutes, using the natural-release method.

Let the potatoes cool, but not all the way. When the potatoes are still hot/warm, but cool enough to handle, mix them with the dressing and fava beans. Let sit for several minutes before serving to allow the flavors to blend, or refrigerate until ready to serve. I think it tastes the best at room temperature or slightly warm, so serving them shortly after preparing is best.

Potato Salad with Herbed Dijon Vinaigrette

Potato Salad with Herbed Dijon Vinaigrette
Serves 2-4

1 1/2 to 2 lbs New potatoes, halved

Dressing:
1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tsp White Wine Vinegar
1/2 tsp Fresh Black Pepper
2 tsp Dijon Mustard
1/4 Packed Cup Parsley, chopped
1/8 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
1/2 tsp Paprika
1/4 tsp Sugar

Whisk together the ingredients for the dressing. A small blender like the magic bullet works well to help emulsify the dressing, but you can easily whisk it by hand. Set aside the dressing until ready to use.

Boil the potatoes in well-salted water until tender but not falling apart. You can also cook them in a pressure cooker on the second ring for 4 minutes, using the natural-release method.

Let the potatoes cool, but not all the way. When the potatoes are still hot/warm, but cool enough to handle, mix them with the dressing. Let sit for several minutes before serving to allow the flavors to blend, or refrigerate until ready to serve. I think it tastes best at room temperature or slightly warm, so serving them shortly after preparing is best.

For a little twist, you can reheat leftover vinaigrette potatoes under the broiler until crispy and heated through.

Potato Salad, two ways