Gnudi—a type of Italian dumpling best thought of as “nude” ravioli (meaning without pasta)—sometimes appear with spinach, but I prefer the delicate, sweet flavor of pea shoots. While you can find pea shoots year-round in many Asian markets, their arrival in local farmers markets is one of my favorite harbingers of spring.
11 ounces or 1¾ cups pea shoots, blanched, shocked in ice water and chopped
1 cup ricotta
¼ cup grated Parmesan, plus more for garnish
¾ cup 00 flour (all-purpose is fine, too)
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cups fresh peas
Lemon zest, olive oil and chili flakes for garnish
Have on hand a 12- by 18-inch rimmed baking sheet, dusted with flour. In a large mixing bowl, combine the pea shoots, ricotta, parmesan, flour and eggs, mixing well. Season generously with salt. Shape the dough into roughly 12 meatball-sized spheres and arrange on the baking sheet. Set in refrigerator to chill for at least an hour.
Bring a small pot of salted water and a large pot of salted water to boil. In the small pot, boil peas until done, about 3 minutes, then transfer to a colander to drain. In the large pot, drop in gnudi in batches of 6. Boil until they float to the top, about 3 minutes, then transfer using a slotted pasta spoon directly to serving bowls, making sure to drain well, in batches of 3.
Serve each portion with a couple of generous spoonsful of peas, grated Parmesan, grated lemon zest, a sprinkle of chili flakes, black pepper and a drizzle of good olive oil.
LUKE PYENSON is a food and travel writer, recipe developer, food stylist and photographer based in New York City. You can see examples of his work at www.lukepyenson.com.