Saturday, January 24, 2009
We all love pasta, don't we? It's one of the easiest meals to fix on a hurried weeknight. Boil a box of pasta, whip up a quick tomato sauce, fix a salad, and you have a meal that's not only quite healthy but delicious and sure to please.
But fresh pasta is an even more sublime experience. The wonderful texture is to die for, and the taste absolutely incomparable.
I'd long been wanting to make some gnocchi, a small, handmade potato pasta, especially after I watched that wonderful chef Lidia Bastianich cook up some on her public-television show. But I finally only got around to it this week.
Gnocchi does require a little labor, because you have to hand-make the dumplings, but believe me, it is a labor of love and well worth it.
I used whole-wheat to make my gnocchi, and the taste was so delicious, I'm glad I did not follow other recipes which suggested all-purpose flour.
I made a very simple sundried tomato pesto sauce for my gnocchi that gave this dish a huge burst of flavor while letting the beautiful texture and taste of the gnocchi come through.
So here's the recipe. It's shaping up to be a busy weekend, and I gotta run. Wish you all a lovely, lovely weekend, and don't forget to come up with ideas and recipes for It's A Vegan World: Italian. In fact, that's where this gnocchi recipe's off to.
Gnocchi with Sundried Tomato Pesto
2 cups white whole-wheat flour (can use regular whole-wheat or all-purpose)
2 large baking potatoes like russet potatoes, boiled or zapped in the microwave until a fork stuck in the middle sinks through. Peel and mash, making sure there are no lumps. I put mine through a potato ricer.
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
Mix the ingredients into a smooth dough. You won't need any water, I didn't, but if the dough refuses to come together for any reason, add a little water.
Take a couple of tablespoons of the dough and roll into a cylinder about 1/2 inch thick.
With a knife, cut the cylinder at 1/4-inch intervals.
Take each piece and lightly shape it into a cylindrical shape. Then, with your thumb, press the gnocchi into the tines of a fork, while making a dent in the back with your thumb at the same time.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add about 2 tbsp salt to it.
Put about a fourth of the gnocchi into the boiling water. It will sink first and rise as it cooks. Once the gnocchi has risen, remove to a plate. Each batch will take about 2 minutes each.
Add some sundried pesto sauce (recipe follows) or basil pesto and stir.
Serve with a salad.
Sundried Pesto Sauce
2/3 cup of oil-packed sundried tomatoes
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
A handful (around 1/4 cup) of walnuts
1 tsp dried basil leaves
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 tsp red chili powder, like cayenne
Salt to taste
Place all ingredients other than olive oil into a food processor.
With the motor running, drizzle in the olive oil.
Once you have a granular but even paste, turn off the food processor. Check for salt.
Mix with gnocchi.