Spring has sprung and Queen Victoria Market is bursting at the seams with produce. To get the lowdown on the best of the season, I recently spent the morning chatting to traders who told me that now is the perfect time to eat:
Asparagus. Choose firm, bright, even-sized spears with tightly closed tips. To keep asparagus fresh for longer, wrap it in a damp tea towel, pop in a plastic bag and store in the crisper compartment of your fridge.
Blood Oranges. Since they’re only available for a short and sweet time (August to October), make the most of Blood Oranges by substituting them as the citrus ingredient in your favourite recipes.
Fresh peas. While fresh peas are available all year round, they are at their prime from now through to December. For the best flavor, choose small peas that are younger and sweeter. It’s also best to pick bright, green, slightly waxy pods.
Artichokes. Look for artichokes that are well coloured, undamaged and that have tightly closed leaves. Also, the heavier the choke, the fresher it is. To store, sprinkle with a little water and store in a plastic bag in the fridge. Use as soon as possible for maximum flavour.
Inspired by spring’s fresh bounty, I’ve created a recipe just for you with ingredients from Queen Victoria Market.
Until next month . . . Clare
Ricotta and Mint Gnocchi with Spring Peas and Spinach
Recipe by Clare Hillier
500 g fresh, full fat ricotta
¼ cup freshly grated parmesan
2 free range eggs, lightly whisked
Zest of one lemon
2 tablespoons chopped mint leaves
¾ – 1 cup plain flour, plus more for rolling
1 cup single cream
1 cup fresh peas, blanched
½ cup finely grated Parmesan, extra
½ cup mint leaves
1 cup spinach leaves
Sea salt and cracked pepper
1. Place the ricotta in a sieve and drain over a bowl in the fridge for 30-60 minutes.
2. Place the ricotta, Parmesan, eggs, flour, lemon rind and mint in a large bowl and whisk together with a fork until the ricotta is fluffy.
3. Gradually add 3/4 of a cup of flour and lightly fold it in until it is just blended. The gnocchi dough should be workable and a little sticky. If it’s still too wet, add the remaining flour, little by little, until you get the right consistency.
4. Turn the gnocchi dough out onto the bench top that has been dusted with flour and roll into 4 x 30cm long ropes. Cut into 2cm lengths.
5. Cook the gnocchi in batches, in a saucepan of salted boiling water for about 2-3 minutes or until they float to the surface. Remove with a sloteed spoon.
6. Place the cream in a large frying pan over a high heat and cook for 1-2 minutes or until warmed through. Add the gnocchi, peas, Parmesan, mint, spinach, salt and pepper and toss to coat.