Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Homemade Gnocchi with light Spring Sauce

We're not great at eating potatoes in our house. I know it's crazy, who has a problem cooking with plain ole' tators? Boiled potatoes, mashed potatoes, baked potatoes, roasted potato wedges, the options are endless. However, unless the potatoes are going into a roast or a stew, they tend to just hang out in my potato basket until the sprout, shrivel, and then mold. Sad, I know. It's just how things are.

We've had several weeks now of getting potatoes in our CSA box, off and on. I've made smashed potatoes and a yummy Spanish tapas-style tortilla. Yet, still the potatoes sat there. I then remembered my favorite potato dish (almost ever, but maybe not quite). Gnocchi.

Last fall, I attempted sweet potato gnocchi and last winter I made regular gnocchi (I just didn't post about it, ooops). One hot spring day (as all spring days were this year, sigh) I boiled some potatoes and started to make gnocchi. The kids wanted in on the process, which was a lot of fun. They helped roll out the gnocchi snakes. M, now 6, did a great job. I had to laugh at John's snake--it was complete with an enlarged flattened head at the front, just like a snake. At that point, John's helping was over. He lost interest when I had to roll the snake to be uniform and then cut it. He just wanted to use the gnocchi dough like play dough.

Don't let shaping the gnocchi correctly discourage you from trying. I make the saddest looking gnocchi you've ever seen. It doesn't prevent it from tasting good. I think I need to keep trying in hopes of someday getting it right.

For the sauce, I slightly adapted the macaroni, peas, and cheese recipe and topped the gnocchi with that. It was perfect for spring when I wasn't very hungry for a heavy tomato sauce.

We loved it. Curtis didn't partake. I know he's not gnocchi fan, so I made it on a day he wasn't home for supper. The gnocchi fills you up pretty quickly so this recipe goes a long way.

Serves 4 -6.

Potato Gnocchi with Spring Sauce
from + Melissa Clark's In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite

2 lbs potatoes, scrubbed
salt (about 3 T)
2 c + 2 T flour
2 large eggs
dash of freshly ground pepper

For the sauce
2 oz bacon or pancetta, chopped
1 1/2 c frozen peas
3 T heavy cream
2 T fresh mint or basil, chopped
2 t lemon juice

To make the gnocchi: Place potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with 2 inches of water. Add 1 T of salt, bring to a boil, and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 40 minutes (less depending on the size of your potatoes). Drain the potatoes, and while they are still hot, peel the potatoes, using a clean kitchen towel to help you hold them, if necessary. Using a potato ricer or food mill (I use the food mill attachment for my kitchenaid---the same one I use for making applesauce), process the potatoes, letting them fall onto a lightly floured work surface (ie the counter). Make a well in the center of the potatoes, sprinkle flour evenly over the potatoes, redefining the well if necessary. Break the eggs into the well. Add 1 T salt and a dash of pepper. Lightly beat eggs, then incorporate the flour and potatoes to make a soft dough. Knead the dough when it is too difficult to mix with a fork. You want to use as little extra dough as possible to keep the gnocchi light and fluffy like little pillows.

Divide the dough into 4 balls and on a lightly floured work surface, shape each ball into a 3/4" in diameter snake (no heads, please). Cut the rope into a 1/2 - 3/4" pieces. To shape the gnocchi, hold the gnocchi in one hand. Push the back of fork tines against the gnocchi and roll the gnocchi off the tines, making a indentation on the back as you do so with your index finger. (check out this recipe for a better explanation. Disclaimer: my gnocchi was malformed and ugly, but tasty). Put the gnocchi on a baking sheet, not letting them touch until all the gnocchi is shaped and you are ready to cook the gnocchi.

While you bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, make the sauce. To make the sauce: Cook the bacon or pancetta in a large skillet until crispy. Stir in the peas and cook for a minute to defrost. Add the heavy cream and herbs. Cook, stirring constantly, until bubbly, 2 - 3 minutes. Stir in the cheese. While the sauce cooks, put half the gnocchi in the pot of boiling water. Cook until the gnocchi floats to the surface, 2 - 3 minutes. Remove from boiling water and put directly into hot bacon and pea sauce. Repeat with remaining gnocchi, drizzle lemon juice on top of sauce, and stir gently to combine gnocchi and sauce. Serve immediately.

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