The first rays of spring sun have started streaming through my windows. Like a cat, I’ve found myself moving around our back room, basking in the warmth, following the sun as it makes its journey across the sky. At just about the right time for lunch, the sun hits my dining room table and makes it an exceptionally pleasant place to be. It’s made even more lovely, as many things are, with a flavoursome plate of pasta and a crisp white wine.
I found little gnocchi, “gnocchetti”, in the supermarket the other day, and bought them because they were cute (this is a perfectly valid reason for purchasing ingredients). Emiko Davis recently posted a recipe for gluten-free gnocchetti, which she claims is even better than gluten-laden gnocchetti, so if you’re that way inclined head over to her blog for the recipe.
I enjoy a meal that consists of everything being the same size. It’s satisfying to look at, and to eat. Since the pasta is already hazelnut sized, it seems perfectly matched to a nutty sauce with small cubes of pancetta and diced cauliflower, which is a riff on Emiko’s recipe.
The crunch of the hazelnuts, the texture of the cauliflower and the pillowy soft parcels of potato make an excellent marriage. Its strong in pork flavour and so buttery an accompanying white wine is practically mandatory to help cut through the richness. It’s a pretty dish that looks delicate, but it tastes very robust.
If you’re in the habit of roasting vegetables for the week, this is a great recipe to use up your cauliflower. Or, if you have the oven on for another meal during the week, throw some cauliflower in to take advantage of a hot oven and get ahead for this dish, which then turns into an easy weeknight option. It doesn’t freeze very well, which is OK, because it’s unlikely you’ll have leftovers, and if you do, you’re a stronger person than I.
Cauliflower, Pancetta and Hazelnut Gnocchetti
- 1/2 a medium cauliflower, chopped into florets
- 500g gnocchetti (or gnocchi if you can’t find the little fellas)
- 4 thick slices of pancetta, chopped into cubes
- Olive oil
- 70g whole hazelnuts, roughly chopped
- ½ glass white wine
- 50g cold butter
- handful of chopped parsley
Heat oven to 200C/400F. Place chopped cauliflower onto a baking tray, coat with a glug of olive oil and season. Roast until golden, about 20-30 minutes. Chop your cauliflower into pieces about the same size as the gnocchetti and pancetta cubes.
Cook your gnocchetti according to packet instructions.
Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a pan and saute the pancetta until golden brown. Drain the excess fat, add the hazelnuts to the pancetta and toast a few minutes. Add the wine to the pan to deglaze, then simmer until you have barely any liquid left in the pan.
Add the cold butter and herbs and when melted, toss the drained gnocchetti and roasted cauliflower into the pan to coat. Add a bit of the pasta cooking water if you need a bit more liquid to bring everything together.
Serve with a crisp glass of white wine.
Adapted from Emiko Davies’ Gluten-free Gnocchetti recipe