This past week or two it is finally sinking in with me that after the long winter of snow and ice and snow and wind and snow and sleet and snow, spring might finally be here. The proof is right here in my own backyard….
That is a little baby lilac. When it turns into a full-blooming lilac I will go through the same agonizing decision I make every year – clip it and bring it inside, or leave it on the lilac bush? (Hint: the lilac bush has won every year so far.)
There’s also this little guy.
I have no idea what he is, but he’s green, so I’m happy.
However, the ultimate sign of spring, the one that means we have truly crossed over to the other side is the following….
Once the dog is outside sunning herself in the grass instead of lounging around illegally on my bed, I know that summer can’t be far away. And all this springtime merriment was enough to make me work up my courage and tackle this recipe for gnocchi with spring vegetables. I don’t know what it is about gnocchi that intimidates me, but for some reason I think that it is always going to backfire on me and I am going to have to wave the white flag and call the pizza delivery guy. But this recipe was just different enough for me to buck up and give it a go. For one thing, any recipe with the words “spring” and “vegetables” in it just makes me want to run out and buy loads of carrots with the tops still on them.
And in this case, I also bought a load of fresh peas that the Southern husband cheerfully shelled for me. Man, I love this guy. If you ever find someone who is willing to shell peas for you, hang onto him.
Anyway, the gnocchi recipe turned out to be a snap. After you make the gnocchi, which are basically little heavenly balls of mashed potato mixed with a little flour and olive oil, you freeze them solid. Then when you are ready to make them you saute them on the stove in butter and olive oil until they are golden brown and perfect. Toss in some fresh cooked carrots and peas, a little chopped basil, some salt and pepper, throw open your windows, put on your flip-flops and a short-sleeved shirt and raise a glass to spring.
(I hope I haven’t now inadvertently triggered a rare late-April snowstorm.)
Gnocchi with Spring Vegetables, adapted slightly from Jonathan Waxman’s recipe in The New York Times Serves: 60 gnocchi
Serves: 60 gnocchi