Pea Gnudi with Asparagus and Garlic Butter

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As a pasta lover I was seriously unimpressed when I first heard of gnudi, which are best described as ravioli without the pasta case. ‘What on earth is the point of that?!’ However, I was quickly converted once I tried them – they’re soft and pillowy, full of flavour, and every bit as comforting as pasta.

Ingredients

  • 400 g frozen petits pois
  • 200 g ricotta
  • 1 large egg
  • 60 g vegetarian Parmesan-style cheese, grated, plus extra to serve
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • fine semolina for rolling
  • 450 g asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2.5 cm (1 in) lengths
  • 120 g unsalted butter
  • 8 garlic cloves, crushed
  • salt and black pepper to season

Method

  1. Cook the frozen peas in a pan with plenty of boiling water, then drain them thoroughly. Put them in the bowl of a food processor then blitz them until they are well broken down, but not yet puréed.
  2. Combine the peas, ricotta, egg, vegetarian Parmesan-style cheese, flour and some salt and black pepper in a mixing bowl. Mix to form a soft dough.
  3. Sprinkle a baking tray with a generous layer of semolina and, using either wet hands or a small hinged ice-cream scoop, take walnut-sized pieces of mixture and roll them in the semolina to coat. Roll the balls between your palms to ensure they are tightly packed and place them neatly on the tray. Sprinkle more semolina on top and leave to rest at room temperature for at least 2 hours before cooking. (Overnight in the fridge is ideal, if you have time.)
  4. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and cook the asparagus in it for 1–2 minutes until just tender, but still al dente. Remove the asparagus with a slotted spoon and set aside. Keep the water simmering, as you will use this to cook the gnudi.
  5. Melt the butter in a large frying pan over a medium heat then add the garlic and sauté for about 3 minutes until it is softened and fragrant but not browned. Add the asparagus, season with salt and black pepper, stir to coat the asparagus in the garlic butter, then remove from the heat.
  6. Brush the excess semolina off the gnudi, then lower them into the boiling water with a slotted spoon and stir gently to ensure none of them stick to the bottom of the pan. Return the pan to the boil, and once the gnudi rise to the top and float (around 2–3 minutes), they are done. Remove them with a slotted spoon and add them to the pan with the asparagus.
  7. Set the frying pan back over the heat, then very gently (so as not to break the gnudi) turn everything over in the pan to ensure the gnudi are well coated in the butter and everything is hot.
  8. Transfer the gnudi to warm pasta bowls, ensuring each portion gets plenty of butter and asparagus. Serve with grated Parmesan-style cheese.