Have you ever discovered a really delicious dish at a restaurant, savored every last bite, and then spent the next few hours/days/weeks/months thinking about it, craving it, and wishing you knew how to make it just as good (if not better!) at home?
Have you ever caved in, dragged a loved one to breakfast/lunch/dinner, and gone back to said restaurant for justonemorebite, only to find out those fools have sold to new management and your beloved dish is no longer on the menu? Well, I’ve gotta tell you – it hurts. It hurts bad.
This is that dish.
I stumbled across it on a date with my husband in San Diego’s Little Italy several years ago, and have never really been able to get it out of my head. How did they make those gnocchi so soft, so delicate? How did they manage to make their sauce so rich and creamy, yet so light? What culinary trickery was this, and how oh how could I be trained in their ways?
Then it was gone. All gone. I was left with a profound feeling of loss that is difficult to articulate. It turns out that was just hunger, but man I was disappointed. I began scouring the Internet for gnocchi recipes, and was instantly intimidated. You want me to do what with a potato?! It wasn’t until I stumbled across this version made with ricotta and flour that I got up the nerve to get my gnocchi on.
I don’t know what I was so afraid of! This brilliant recipe is both delicious and actually really easy, if you’re not afraid to get your hands a little dirty (or doughy, to be exact!). Paired with toasted walnuts and a simple, dreamy Gorgonzola sauce, this gnocchi is a perfect, incredibly tasty copy of that dish in San Diego. Phew!
What are some of your favorite restaurant dishes that you’d love to recreate at home?
RICOTTA GNOCCHI WITH TOASTED WALNUT-GORGONZOLA SAUCE
3 to 4 ounces crumbly Gorgonzola cheese (not creamy or dolce)
6 tbsp freshly grated Parmagiano-Reggiano cheese
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
3 tbsp finely chopped fresh Italian parsley, to serve
To make the gnocchi:
Place ricotta, flour, salt, egg and Parmagiano cheese in a medium-sized mixing bowl and stir well, until a wet dough forms.
Turn dough onto a well-floured work surface and knead until it feels pliable and smooth (approximately 2 to 3 minutes).
Divide dough into six equal portions. Roll each portion into a long rope the approximate width of your index finger, stretching as you roll (it’s okay if the ropes rip, as you’ll be cutting them into small pieces in the next step).
Cut ropes into 1-inch pieces. Using a fork turned upside down, gently press the tines into each piece (this will later help the sauce cling to the gnocchi).
Bring a large pot of water to a boil over medium-high heat.
[You’re not finished with the gnocchi yet, but this is a good time to turn to the sauce for a moment!]
To make the sauce:
If not yet toasted, place the walnuts in a preheated 375 degree Fahrenheit oven for 3 minutes (if walnuts are already toasted, skip this step). Set aside.
Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Add the walnuts and saute for two minutes. Add the cream, Gorgonzola, 3 tablespoons Parmagiano cheese, salt and pepper, stirring well to combine. Simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for approximately 4 to 5 minutes, or until slightly thickened.
[Now, back to the gnocchi!]
While the sauce is thickening, carefully drop gnocchi into the boiling water. They will immediately sink to the bottom, but within 2 minutes will start floating to the water’s surface. At this point, your gnocchi is DONE – immediately remove from the boiling water with a slotted spoon, transfer to the simmering sauce, and toss to coat.
Remove from heat, sprinkle with chopped parsley and remaining 3 tablespoons Parmagiano cheese, and serve immediately.
You didn’t know, right? Well, it IS kind of a secret. It’s not like you’ve been getting pummeled with all things pumpkin-flavored, pumpkin-scented, and pumpkin-hued since August, yea? Did anyone even bother to tell you it was FALL?!
Truth be told, I like pumpkin. In fact, I f___ing love pumpkin. I haven’t met a pumpkin recipe I don’t like, and eagerly await Fall each and every year so I can go cray on the pumpkin baking. Pumpkin pie. Pumpkin doughnuts. Pumpkin custard. Pumpkin cookies. Pumpkin cheesecake. Pumpkined pumpkin, with pumpkin. I want it all.
It might therefore come as a bit of a surprise that – before this week – I had only once tried my hand at a savory pumpkin dish. Why waste perfectly good pureed pumpkin on something that isn’t, well, filled with equal parts sugary deliciousness and creamy yummosity? Because, my friends, sometimes perfectly good pureed pumpkin can be mixed with chicken, bacon, sage and garlic, and make the dreamiest baked pasta EVER.
I had my doubts about this recipe. I don’t care for onions, and wasn’t convinced I would like the combination of chicken, bacon, and pumpkin. Silly me – this was SO tasty. My husband – who also doubted he’d like this – was instantly hooked as soon as he took a cheesy, velvety, pumpkiny bite. It is the perfect Sunday dinner; while a little extra cooking time is needed, you’ll have delicious leftovers for days!
It’s good to see you, pumpkin season. Stick around for a while, won’t you?
Crumbled, cooked bacon (as little or as much as you want)
To make the sauce:
Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Cut the onion into thin slices and add to the melted butter. Keeping the heat on medium-low, cook the onions until they are caramelized and deep golden brown, about 20-30 minutes. For a little extra sweetness, add a splash of white wine as they’re cooking.
While the onions are caramelizing, puree the garlic, pumpkin, chicken broth, milk, olive oil, salt, sage, nutmeg, and pepper in a blender until smooth. Add to the caramelized onions in the pan and cook until heated through. Remove from heat and set aside.
Bring a pot of water to a boil and add the chicken, cooking for 10-15 minutes or until the chicken is no longer pink in the center. Remove from the water; when cool enough to handle, shred the chicken into the pumpkin sauce. Add the crumbled bacon, if desired.
To make the pasta:
Cook the pasta according to package directions, stopping a little early so they are still firm enough to hold their shape in the oven. Drain.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (175 degrees Celsius). Toss the cooked pasta, chicken, bacon and pumpkin sauce with 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese. Transfer to a greased baking dish, top with remaining cheese and cover with greased foil to prevent sticking. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbling. Let stand a few minutes before serving.
I’ve been quite keen to make this pasta ever since discovering the recipe in the January 2012 edition of Olive magazine. Chorizo, garlic, tomatoes, fresh herbs, breadcrumbs – how can you go wrong?! As a matter of fact, you can’t go wrong with this dish, as it’s quite possibly the easiest and quickest homemade pasta I’ve ever tossed together (literally).
What is pangritata, you may ask? A mixture of breadcrumbs and fresh herbs lightly toasted in olive oil, pangritata (or ‘poor man’s Parmesan) is the ingenious invention of southern Italians eager to add flavor and texture to pasta without the added expense of fine cheeses and other ingredients. In this recipe, pangritata is made from the crumbs of a day-old ciabatta loaf and fresh rosemary, although other hardy, aromatic herbs – including thyme and sage – are also excellent substitutes. Toasted pangritata adds great color and crunch to this hot and flavorful dish, one that goes from fridge to table in less than 20 minutes!
SPAGHETTI WITH CHORIZO + ROSEMARY PANGRITATA
150 grams dried spaghetti
100 grams chorizo, diced
Pinch of red chili flakes
1 fresh garlic clove, finely sliced
150 grams fresh cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
Cook the spaghetti according to package instructions. While cooking, heat two tablespoons in a pan and add chorizo. Cook over medium-high heat until starting to crisp – approximately 3 to 5 minutes – then add chili flakes, garlic and tomatoes. Cook until the tomatoes just start to burst, approximately 2 to 3 minutes.
In a small frying pan over medium heat, warm one tablespoon olive oil. Add breadcrumbs and toast, stirring often, until crisp and golden. Add rosemary and stir through.
Drain the spaghetti and tip into the chorizo pan. Toss together with 1/4 cup crushed tomatoes, if desired, then sprinkle with rosemary pangritata to serve.