This dish was centered around fiddle head ferns which have a relatively short season. They are not anything spectacular or super special but merely a detour from the daily grind of boredom and familiarity. I wanted to feature the ferns in a vegetarian dish that was simple and fun. Spinach gnocchi seemed like a good idea – paired with some fresh goat cheese and of course the sautéed ferns.
We received ours from dartagnan a premier supplier of all things special, free range and extraordinary. When we first received the ferns we washed them well since they are growing in the wild. Next a quick blanch (1 gallon water & almost 1 cup of salt) followed by a quick shock in ice water. Fiddlehead ferns are best sautéed in butter, (clarified) with salt and pepper.
Gnocchi ? Potato Dumplings!
As for the gnocchi they were relatively simple to make. While I am not a particular fan of Italian cuisine, I don’t really consider gnocchi to be Italian, except for the name. I call them gnocchi’s because I believe most of you will understand what that means. Potato dumplings would be much more appropriate, however that would be more German or Polish.
So, basically we will boil, peel and mash some potatoes. Spread them out flat and add some egg yolk, dust with flower and season (salt, pepper, nutmeg). When the dough is perfect we want to add some spinach puree. Form the dumplings and blanch them (1 gallon water to 1 cup salt). We then shock them in ice water.
We start by heating a non stick pan, add some butter and the gnocchi’s. At medium heat give the gnocchi’s a bit of color and then add some water. When the water and butter ratio are perfect they will form a sauce by emulsifying. At that point you want to check your seasoning and crumble some fresh goat cheese (chèvre) into the sauce. We are now ready to add some chopped parsley or sliced chives. Finally we will heat the sautéed ferns in the oven and garnish our dish. We will also add some opal basil and basil oil to finish this dish.