Monday, August 16, 2010

Gnocchi and Figs - outrageously good.

Figs are uniquely sweet, seedy, even crunchy with a rich, dense and substantial bite. As they ripen, they get super delicate, so soft and sugary! I was stoked to find baskets of perfectly ripe-yet-firm figs at Whole Foods this morning. I still had some boxes of gnocchi ("fresh, handmade") by Cucina Fresca at home and immediately thought of Seared Gnocchi with Grapes...
...but with FIGS! Wow, just PERFECT.
**Seared Gnocchi and Fresh Figs**
  • cooked gnocchi (I'm using one 10oz box of Cucina Fresca Gnocchi
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3-5 garlic gloves, peeled and smashed
  • 2 bundles of scallion (preferably sweet wild scallion), chopped
  • about 6-8 fresh figs, cut in half or, for larger figs, cut into quarters
  • salt and fresh cracked pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon (or more to taste, for spicier) crushed red peppers, aka pizza peppers
  • optional: fresh grated parmesan cheese or pecorino

Heat a pan with Oil. Add cooked (boiled and strained) Gnocchi to the pan. Pull out that splatter screen if the oil starts popping! Add the Garlic now. After a minute, or when the bottom side of the gnocchi is seared, browned and hardened, toss with a spatula (or flip-it move with the pan) to cook/sear the other side. After a few more seconds when you see that the the gnocchi are pretty browned all around, add Salt, Pepper and Crushed Red Peppers. Toss quickly while still hot. Then turn off the heat. Add the Scallion and Figs. Before the Scallions start to wilt and the Figs start to soften too much, immediately transfer to a serving plate. Garnish with more Scallion. Shave some fresh pecorino or parm. Shake on more crushed peppers. Pour some red. Bon appetit!

If you haven't had seared gnocchi, then this will be a treat! Idea is to heat them enough to produce a hard toasty shell on the gnocchi. The end result is a bunch of delicious, dense, almost crunchy and chewy little round balls. No more mush. (I never liked soft, mushy gnocchi.)
Get out some fresh garlic, wild scallion (the wild ones are fantastically sweet), oil and figs.
Make sure you don't over-boil the gnocchi or they will crumble into a messy paste.

Check that the figs aren't too ripe, too soft or bruised. I don't think super ripe figs balance well with the strong texture of the gnocchi. Have the figs cut, garlic smashed and scallion chopped first. Because once you start cooking the gnocchi, it goes by fast! 

Okay, heat the pan with some olive oil, enough to just coat it a bit.

Add the boiled, cooked (and soft) gnocchi to the heat. If the oil is hot and the gnocchi is still pretty wet (as it should be), oil will start popping! Get out that splatter screen!

Add the smashed garlic. Toss everything by using a spatula or whip the pan like a pro to flip it.

When all the pieces start looking brown (and slightly burned), add some salt, fresh cracked pepper and some crushed red peppers. If you don't like spicy, you should still add just at least A TEENY BIT (important to balance the sugary sweetness of the figs later on!).

Toss one more time. Turn off the heat. Add scallion...

...and add all the cut figs.

Wow, what chemistry...and the colors... The spicy peppers next to the fresh sugary figs create a magical kick.

Don't leave the figs in the pan too long or they will soften and, in my mind, get too mushy. Cooked figs are brilliant too, but not now/here with the seared crunchy gnocchi. The gnocchi should be cool or slightly warm, not hot or soft.

Transfer the cooked gnocchi and figs immediately to a dish or platter.

Sprinkle more scallion to top it off. If you have pecorino or parmesan, shave some.  This will be perfect for any BBQ or dinner party or potluck!
Flowers of the week...mixed wild flowers and awesome happy sunflowers. Gosh, I always forget how thick their stems are... Gorgeous.
Music of the day...reminiscing back to the teenage days with Fugazi and old Beck. 


  1. This is one of my favorites...I love your blog! It's a beautiful blog- the pictures are amazing.

  2. Thanks Gaby! How long have you been vegetarian?