How to make gnocchi with peas, spinach, asparagus and mozzarella

If ever a vegetable's diminutive size belied the flavour it delivers, it's the pea. Melanie Johnson shares a recipe to make the most of the fresh crop.

‘Seemingly simple, freshly popped peas are kitchen-garden superstars,’ says our kitchen garden cook Melanie Johnson — a sentiment shared by another of our food writers, Tom Parker Bowles, who recently called peas fresh from the pod the ‘absolute quintessence of nubile vitality’.

Even frozen they can be a joy: mix 200g of them with 75g of fried, diced pancetta, 100ml of double cream and a ladle of pasta water, and you’ll have a delcious — and deliciously quick — pasta sauce to coat 375g of pasta. And if you’re having fish and chips, then blitzing 250g of peas with 25g of butter, a teaspoon of lemon juice and some freshly-chopped mint makes peerless mushy peas.

Below, though, is a glorious gnocchi recipe which adds in another seasonal joy — asparagus — to make a dish which really sings.

Recipe: Peas, asparagus and spinach with pan-fried gnocchi and mozzarella

Ingredients (serves 4)

For the gnocchi (or use 500g ready made)

  • 3 large baking potatoes
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 240g flour
  • 50ml olive oil

Recommended videos for you

For the rest

  • 1 clove garlic, grated
  • 200g garden peas, podded
  • 2 handfuls baby spinach
  • 100g asparagus, cut into bite-size pieces
  • A squeeze of lemon and some zest
  • 200ml crème fraiche
  • 150g mozzarella, torn

To serve

  • 1tspn chilli flakes (optional)
  • Parmesan, to grate over


Preheat your oven to 180˚C/350˚F/gas mark 4.

Rub oil over the potatoes and bake for an hour or until cooked through. Scoop out the flesh into a bowl. Mix in the egg yolks and then sprinkle over the flour — you may find you need slightly more or less — and mix to form a dough. Roll it out to long sausages and cut into bite-size pieces. You can use immediately or chill, covered, until you need them.

When ready to cook, bring a large pan of salted water to a boil and add the gnocchi. As soon as they reach the surface, remove with a slotted spoon and add to a large frying pan heated with a splash of olive oil and fry until golden.

To the same pan, add the grated garlic, peas, spinach and asparagus, then cover until the spinach wilts. Remove the lid, add a squeeze of lemon and some zest and then stir through the crème fraiche. Dot around the torn pieces of mozzarella, replace the lid and heat slowly to warm everything through and gently melt the mozzarella — but not so much it doesn’t remain fresh.

Serve hot with chilli flakes and Parmesan grated over the top.