The month of May means Wild BC spot prawn season has arrived on the west coast. I’ve created a pasta appetizer to complement this sweet indigenous crustacean. Gnocchi, spot prawns and arugula in a delicate tomato butter sauce makes for a refined spring appetizer or light weekend brunch dish. Gnocchi is super easy to make but you can also substitute other tender pastas like linguini or pappardelle.
Executive Chef Margaret Chisholm
Gnocchi, Spot Prawns, Arugula and Tomato Butter Sauce
Serves 6 as an appetizer
1½ lbs Yukon gold potatoes
1½ cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp sea salt
1 Tbsp coarse salt
Peel potatoes, cut into 4 and place in cold water with coarse salt. Bring to a gentle boil and cook until just tender. Drain. Dry for a few minutes over low heat. Work potatoes through a potato ricer onto a lightly floured surface.
Sprinkle most of the flour and sea salt over the potatoes and mix together with a metal scraper. Gently knead the dough for 30 seconds or until it just comes together, adding a little flour if it begins to stick.
Flatten dough to a 1” thickness. Cut it into 1” strips. Roll each strip into a rope and cut it into 1” pieces. Place on a well-floured baking sheet.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil on high heat and add coarse salt. Add the gnocchi and stir gently. Boil the gnocchi until they rise to the top of the pot. Count to ten, then remove the gnocchi with a large slotted spoon and place in a large bowl of cold water. When cool, remove to a colander to drain.
In small batches, pan-fry gnocchi over medium heat in butter until light golden brown and heated through.
Chef tip: You can chill sautéed gnocchi in the fridge. At serving time, place on a parchment lined baking sheet and put into a 350˚F oven for approximately 5 to 7 minutes or until hot through.
Tomato Butter Sauce
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 tsp shallots, finely minced
1¾ lbs vine-ripened cherry or Campari tomatoes
2 tsp sherry vinegar
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp smoked paprika
½ cup cold unsalted butter, diced
1½ lbs spot prawn tails, peeled
4 oz baby arugula
Sauté (on medium heat) shallots, tomatoes and smoked paprika in olive oil for 15 minutes.Then purée the mixture in a blender with sugar and vinegar until very smooth.
Poach spot prawns in a medium pot of lightly salted water on medium heat. Immerse prawns and simmer very gently for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove and keep warm.
Pour puréed sauce back into a saucepan and over medium heat whisk in butter just before serving.
To assemble: add arugula to the tomato butter sauce then immediately remove sauce from heat. On a plate combine gnocchi, tomato butter sauce and poached spot prawns.
Garnish with fresh herbs or micro greens.
Chef Margaret tip:
When buying spot prawns, ensure they feel firm, have a few or no black spots and smell of the sea with no hint of ammonia. The best time to buy fresh spot prawns is the day you cook them, but if they are very fresh you could store them for one or two days in the refrigerator.
My favourite way to eat spot prawns is to simply sauté the prawns in their shells with a little butter and top with a pinch of salt and a fresh squeeze of fresh lemon juice.
Check out BC Wild Spot Prawns for more information.
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Photo: Executive Chef Margaret Chisholm