Grim's Grub: Try gnocchi when you need potato and pasta fix
It's no secret that I work two jobs. I had mentioned in the past that I worked at a restaurant. Last year I switched up my second job, and now I work retail.
The job is easy and stress free, though it probably takes back a little too much of the money I earn there.
There are a few weekly or monthly tasks I am not excited about. They take time and they distract from my everyday job requirements. Specifically they slow down stocking.
Among these tasks are putting up sales stickers and setting up new planograms. That's basically a once-a-month job where we take down everything in one of our seasonal sections and replace it with that month's seasonal projects.
Joke's on me, because our new products the past two weeks have me excited, especially the gnocchi in the dollar section.
Gnocchi is a simple pleasure, so long as you aren't making a homemade version. If you aren't familiar, gnocchi are noodles, or dumplings, made from potatoes and flour. Homemade gnocchi has a subtle flavor from ingredients that can include Parmesan, and I once had a recipe with a hint of nutmeg.
At its best, gnocchi should be paired with a sauce that accentuates the taste of the pasta itself. It should share center stage with the sauce. It should not be a supporting character. You should taste potato, you should taste Parmesan and then you should also taste the sauce. Store-bought gnocchi can be a little less flavorful, but it is still important to pair the sauce carefully.
My favorite sauce for homemade gnocchi is a simple browned butter spiced with a sprig of rosemary. The equally subtle flavors perform a concerto for your taste buds and the fluffy gnocchi provides a pleasant texture to match.
Primavera would also work since all ingredients stand on their own, or try a very simple tomato-based sauce. Homemade gnocchi, however, takes a lot of work.
1 pound potatoes
3-4 large egg yolks
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan
¼ cup freshly grated nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1 cup flour plus more for dusting
Bake your potatoes at 425 degrees until slightly overcooked, about 45 minutes. Allow to cool.
Scoop out flesh of the potatoes and reserve. Pass these through a potato ricer or grate them on the large holes of a box grater. This should make about 2 cups.
Make a mound of potato on the counter with a well in the middle. Add 3 egg yolks, cheese, nutmeg, salt and pepper and mix well.
Sprinkle ½ cup of flour over the potatoes and press it into the potatoes using your knuckles. Without overworking or kneading the dough, fold and press this several times while sprinkling the remaining ½ cup of flour (or until the dough just holds together).
If the mixture is too dry, add the remaining egg yolk or a little water. The dough should be soft, giving to pressure.Try to roll it into a rope a half inch in diameter. If it breaks apart, add more flour, folding and pressing until you succeed.
Starting with a half-inch dough rope (or break it into four groups) cut out ½-inch long lengths, lightly flouring each piece as it is cut. Once ready, shape each of these by rolling against a cutting board with the back of a fork, or a gnocchi board with your finger (pushing it away from you if using your finger). Watch YouTube for the traditional methods.
Allow these to dry slightly before cooking, or freeze them immediately. Cook these in a pot of boiling water for approximately 90 seconds after the time they float. Serve with a subtle sauce.
Caprese Pasta Sauce
1 pound grape tomatoes
¼ cup olive oil
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
2 cloves garlic, sliced very thin
Salt and fresh ground black pepper
Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
8 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into small cubes or paper thin slices
15 fresh basil leaves, finely shredded
6-8 cups cooked gnocchi
Bake grape tomatoes on parchment paper for 15 minutes at 375 degrees. When finished, combine with olive oil, vinegar, garlic and ground seasonings, to taste. Toss until evenly coated and allow to marinate at room temperature.
Combine mixture with gnocchi, then add mozzarella and basil before giving one final toss.