While I had been dabbling in foraged goods for a little while, it was Beau Schooler’s regular incorporation of locally foraged foods into The Rookery menu that finally woke me up to the massive variety of foraged goods we have around town. Beau and The Rookery push boundaries, play with unlikely ingredients, and put local greens, seafood, and mushrooms on the menu as frequently as possible. With their shop Panhandle Provisions they’re now selling house-made salamis and pickles, also featuring local ingredients. Beau’s a foraging nerd of the highest order, and him actually being a professional and all, makes him a great conspirator.
Beau’s spruce-tip gnocchi are fluffy, surprisingly easy to make, and do a lovely job of highlighting the delicate flavor of spruce-tips rather than burying it. His advice was to sauce these with something acidic to bring out the lemony spruce-tips. I initially served them on slices of tomato, which wound up overwhelming them, but once I paired it down to a white wine sauce with peas and parsley? Hell yeah.
When Beau sent this I happened to have a bag of spruce tips in my fridge. This recipe doesn’t take a whole lot of spruce tips and was surprisingly much easier than other times I’ve tried to make gnocchi. There’s still some time to grab spruce tips around town if you look up in some higher elevations or colder valleys.
Beau’s Spruce-Tip Gnocchi
- 1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons minced spruce tips
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
Cover the potatoes in cold, heavily salted water and bring to a boil. Turn down to the the barest of a simmer. Simmer potatoes until a skewer or knife can slip through, but still has a slight bit of resistance, basically al dente. I didn’t do a good job of paying attention to how long this took, but somewhere around 20 minutes.
Drain potatoes, let cool, and peel once you can handle them, but don’t let them fully cool. 10-15 minutes.
Mash potatoes. I recently bought a potato ricer for $15 and it was AWESOME. But obviously, you can mash potatoes however you mash potatoes.
Loosely mix together the potatoes, egg, spruce tips, flour, and a good dose of salt. Stir until they just come together.
Dump mixture out onto a floured surface. At this point it should be a cohesive dough. DON’T KNEED IT. If the dough is still sticky, sprinkle a little flour and flip it over on the floured surface. Cut the dough into manageable pieces and then roll into nickle-thick ropes. Cut the ropes into one-inch gnocchi, being sure to flour as you go.
Transfer gnocchi to a floured pan. You can freeze these pans and re-package the gnocchi for later use. To cook, simply boil in salted water until they float, about 2 minutes. When cooking your frozen gnocchi, you do the exact same thing, just dump the frozen gnocchi straight into the boiling water.
I went ahead and doubled the batch and froze most of what I made. We don’t eat a lot of potato or pasta, but for a beautiful, and freaking delicious, side dish, these are perfect.
Beau’s recommended listening while making:
Spruce-tip Gnocchi with Peas
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1/4 cup white wine
- 1/4 cup peas
- Zest of half a lemon
- Salt & pepper
- 1/4 cup rough chopped parsley
- Pinch of diced spruce-tips
- More black pepper
Melt one tablespoon butter over medium-high heat. Drop gnocchi into hot pan and flip once to brown both sides. Remove gnocchi from the butter. Add wine, peas, and lemon zest. Reduce for about five minutes or until cooked down by about half. Add salt, pepper, and two tablespoons butter. Once incorporated, return gnocchi to the pan along with the chopped parsley and toss until heated through. Plate and sprinkle a pinch of diced spruce-tips and cracked black pepper.