CRISPY GNOCCHI WITH BASIL PESTO

Crispy gnocchi with basil pesto, garnished with (although when I started cooking, I had not planned on it) mushrooms that are cooked such that it almost acts like bacon, and served with a side of one of my favorite vegetables, broccoli.

GNOCCHI

I have to admit that most of what I know about what the texture of gnocchi is supposed to be is just what I have heard on various cooking shows.  I know that if the dough gets over worked that the gnocchi becomes “gummy” and sits heavily in the stomach.  And that when done right, they are “light and fluffy” like “pillows.”  Hopefully I’ll find out what that means when I travel to Italy.  But for now, I will just guess.  And I have to admit, I think they are pretty delicious.

  • 2 Baking Potatoes, peeled
  • 1 Large Egg
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt
  • Pepper to Taste
  • Pinch of Nutmeg
  • 1 Cup Unbleached All-Purpose Flour, or as needed
  • Oil for Frying

Bring a well salted pot of water with a little lemon juice (optional) in it to a boil.  Peel the potatoes and chop each potato into four or five pieces so they will boil faster.  Boil until easily pierced with a fork, about 15 minutes.  I like to use my potato ricer to quickly make very smooth potatoes.  Mix in the egg, salt, pepper and nutmeg quickly, to avoid the potatoes getting gummy.

gnocchi-mash2

I like to mix in the flour quite slowly so that I don’t add more flower than I need.  The more you knead the dough, the more flour it will require, and the more flour you add, the more dense your gnocchi will be.  So I like to add three to four tablespoons of flour at a time and use my hands until the dough forms a ball.  It will still be kind of crumbly, it just needs to come together.  I think I ended up adding about 3/4 of a cup of flour, maybe slightly more.

gnocchi ball.jpg

Divide the dough into eight balls, adding small amounts of flour to your hands or the dough to keep it together.  Working on a floured surface, roll out the balls into long snakes.  Using a dough cutter, or a knife, cut the snakes into 1/2″ to 3/4″ lengths.  Use a dough cutter or spatula to transfer to a floured cookie sheet for storage.

making gnocchi.jpg

I sometimes hold at this stage to make sure that the rest of dinner is ready to go.  But it also depends on whether or not you want to make crispy gnocchi.  I decided tonight, I wanted to fry them for that nice crispy edge.  For a lighter (or more healthy, if you’re into that kind of thing) meal, you may want to omit the pan frying step.

To cook the gnocchi, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Boil them in batches until they float.  It will only take a minute or two per batch.

cooking gnocchi copy.jpg

Use a spider to remove the gnocchi.  If you don’t have a spider, use whatever you have available, but I HIGHLY recommend a spider, available here: on Amazon.  It’s great.  Mine is actually from Sur La Table, but they’re pretty similar.  (I am an Amazon Associate, so if you’d like to buy this spider, please do so through this link.)

Then, to make the gnocchi crispy and super delicious, I like to use my cast iron skillet.  Make sure the pan and the oil are good and hot before adding the gnocchi, or the gnocchi will stick instead of browning.  Panfry on both sides.  Place on a paper towel to drain and cool.  I want to give credit to my husband.  He came home from work, and as he often does when dinner isn’t complete, he helped me finish cooking dinner (that is–after he went and got a six pack of wine).  He did all of this beautiful frying.

frying gnocchi2.jpg

To serve, toss with homemade pesto.

gnocchi in pesto.jpg

 


 

PESTO:

This pesto recipe is no different than anyone else’s, except that I added a squirt of lemon juice because I wanted a little more acidity and brightness.  It was what tasted good to me today.

  • 2 Cups Fresh Basil Leaves, Packed
  • 1/2 Cup Grated Parmesan
  • 1/2 Cup Olive Oil
  • 1/4 Cup Pine Nuts
  • 3 Garlic Cloves
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Squirt of Lemon Juice

Place everything in a food processor, and blend until smooth.  Taste, and adjust as needed.

pesto.jpg

 


 

MUSHROOMS

As I mentioned earlier, I actually ended up serving the gnocchi in pesto with a mushroom garnish.  I don’t know that this particular way of preparing the mushrooms is the best way, however, my husband assures me the gnocchi was better with them than without.

  • 1 Pound Cremini Mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 4 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • Juice of 1/2 Freshly Squeezed Lemon
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1/4 Cup Grated Parmesan
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste

Note: To slice the mushrooms, I used my food processor with the slice attachment, letting the weight of the mushrooms do all of the slicing, so they were very very thin.  I think….maybe too thin?  I guess it depends on the goal.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Grease a glass casserole dish with olive oil.  Place all ingredients in the casserole and toss to combine.

mushrooms.jpg

Baked for 20 to 25 minutes.  Since they were so thinly sliced, they became these tiny lemony/mushroomy/meaty flavor bombs.  Quite delicious, but also not what I was expecting.

lemon mushrooms.jpg

My husband thinks this with a slight crunch (cooked at a slightly higher temp) might have been a little more perfect to serve with the gnocchi.

 


 

BROCCOLI

And then there’s broccoli.  This can be cooked in a myriad of ways.  There are two ways that I usually cook broccoli.  One is a roasted lemon – parmesan.  The other one is this.

In a large pot, dissolve bouillon cube and melt butter into the water.  Place florets into the sauce, and boil/steam until just tender, about 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

broccoli.jpg

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