Sunday, Old Man Winter dumped another ten inches of the white stuff on us and with the high wind factor, going outdoors was just something I didn’t even want to consider. So instead we made gnocchi. Four trays of them actually that I tucked away in the freezer, until the menu is decided upon.
Our children and grandkids are arriving this week and along with all the gear they will be towing, they bring along big appetites as well. These hearty little potato dumplings are a favorite dish around our house when we all gather together. A big bowl of meatballs and sausage, a platter of sliced brasciole, loaves of crusty bread and plenty of extra sauce and so much chatter and catching up will be brought to our table this weekend and we can’t wait for their arrival! I still haven’t decided on dessert just yet as I’m still getting over a touch of the flu.. my tummy still feels like the re-enactment of the Battle of Bunker Hill :( but I think it will be a tiramisu that’s easily put together and I know they will all enjoy.
As we bagged up the frozen gnocchi, I decided to grab a few just for us and made a simple walnut parsley pesto sauce instead of my regular basil pesto as I was out of basil. This, along with some chicken soup was just what the doctor ordered.. it was just so good. Enjoy!
1 1/2 oz fresh flat leaf parsley
2 tsp capers, rinsed
2 garlic cloves, smashed
3/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup walnut halves
2 oz Romano cheese, grated
sea salt & white pepper to taste
Chop the parsley, capers and garlic, then put in a mortar (or food processor)with olive oil, walnuts and salt and pepper. Pound with pestle to create a coarse paste. Add the romano cheese and stir well. If using a food processor, just a few pulses should do the trick. Spoon the pesto over warm gnocchi and enjoy!
You can get already prepared gnocchi in your local market, but we enjoy making our own. This is how I make mine.
2 lbs russet potatoes (approx. 3 large)
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups flour, plus an extra 1/2 cup for mixing dough
2 oz parmesan cheese, grated
Boil the potatoes in their skins in a large pan of water for 35-40 minutes until just tender. Drain and allow to cool slightly. When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, peel skins and press through a potato ricer. While still warm season with salt and pepper and add the Parmesan cheese. Make a well in the riced potatoes and drop in the egg mixing it into the potato with a fork. Once it's well combined sift in the flour slowly while continuing to mix gently. Lightly flour your work surface and knead lightly until the mixture becomes a smooth dough. If it is too sticky add just a little more flour. I like to shape mine into a breadloaf appearing dough and then I quarter it, depending on how many gnocchi I plan to make. The rest of my dough gets wrapped tight and into the freezer for future use. For this gang though, we ended up using all the fresh dough up. Take each section you've cut and roll it out with your hands to make a long rope about 3/4 inch thick. Then cut into 1 inch pieces and roll over a well floured gnocchi board to give them the traditional ridged effect. Transfer the made gnocchi to a floured or parchment paper lined pastry sheet and cover with a clean towel while you make the remaining gnocchi.
Fresh gnocchi doesn't keep long, so either use it soon or freeze, as it keeps beautifully frozen until ready to use.
When you are ready to prepare, bring a large pan of water to boil, then add the gnocchi, in small batches and cook for two minutes or so.When they float to the top of the pan they are done. Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to a warming plate until you cook the remaining gnocchi. This weekend, I will be using my marina sauce as it's my grandchildren's favorite, but this meal was just yummy with the walnut pesto as well. Enjoy!