Fresh spring vegetable salad with gnocchi

Warm balmy evenings signal the start of lighter eating which means that it’s well and truly time for salads and making the most of fresh seasonal produce.  I love the combination of all these fresh green vegetables – really you can use whatever is at hand: broad beans, snow peas, baby spinach leaves. The addition of the gnocchi turns this salad into a very sustaining and satisfying meal.

Fresh spring vegetable salad with gnocchi

Ingredients:

350g gnocchi
½ cup frozen peas
handful sugar snap peas, halved lengthways
1 zucchini, halved, then cut into wedges
I bunch baby asparagus
handful snow pea sprouts

Dressing

1 small shallot, roughly chopped
15g mint leaves, picked
15g basil leaves, picked
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
zest of ½ lemon
juice of 1 lemon
½ tsp whole grain mustard

To serve:
1 tbsp pinenuts or pistachios

To prepare

Dressing:
Put all the ingredients into a small blender and blitz until smooth.
Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.
Add a bit of water if the dressing is too thick.

Cook gnocchi as per instructions then drain and refresh under cold water.*

Bring a pot of water to boil, add 1tsp salt then add the zucchini. After 30 seconds add the asparagus. 30 seconds later, add the sugar snap peas. Cook for a further 30 seconds then throw in the frozen peas. Drain immediately and refresh with cold water.

Place gnocchi with all the greens into a bowl and pour over the dressing. Toss well to coat all over. Sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper.  Divide onto 2 plates and sprinkle with the pinenuts or pistachios.

*Generally all you need to do is bring a pot of salted water to boil and throw in the gnocchi.  Once the gnocchi rises to the top of the pot cook it for a further 30-40 seconds and then it’s ready.

Barley salad – the new tabbouleh

My variation on tabbouleh

Pearl barley (sometimes called pearled barley) is the most common form of barley for human consumption because it cooks faster and is less chewy than other, less-processed forms of the grain such as “hulled barley” (or “barley groats”, also known as “pot barley” and “Scotch barley”). All barley must have its fibrous outer hull removed before it can be eaten; pearl barley is then polished to remove the bran layer.

Because of its high caloric, protein, vitamin and mineral content this variation of tabbouleh is much more wholesome than the usual version made with bulgar. 

Serves 4

1 cup pearl barley
1 cinnamon stick
1 lemon, juiced
100ml extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp ground cumin mixed with 1 tbsp salt flakes
freshly ground black pepper
1 cup coriander leaves, torn
2 cups flat-parsley leaves, torn
2 cups rocket, chopped
1 red onion, finely sliced
1 celery heart, finely chopped, yellow leaves reserved
1/2 cup almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped
2 red chillies, finely chopped (optional)

Adding the seeds of a pomegranate makes a nice variation

  1. Place barley and cinnamon stick in a medium-sized saucepan, cover with water and bring to the boil over a medium heat. Simmer for 20-30 minutes until barley is cooked and tender. Drain then stir through lemon juice, half the olive oil and combined cumin and salt. Season with pepper.
  2. Combine barley mixture with herbs, rocket, onion, celery heart and leaves and almonds and season to taste.