Homemade Gnocchi with Basil Pesto

“Who can find a husband that loves to cook? For his price is far above rubies.”
{Ever wonder why there isn’t a Proverbs 32, describing virtuous husbands? Haha! Just joshin’ with ya.}
As I’ve said before, Dr. Hubs and I have so much fun cooking together. I’m grateful. Really grateful. It’s nice to share interests.
Last month we broke out the Martha Stewart cookbook that I’ve been studying and tried out her recipe for homemade gnocchi {pronounced “nyo-kee”} with basil pesto.
Gnocchi with Basil Pesto
Cook potatoes until tender
While potatoes are cooking, prepare pesto {and maybe put away the laundry that’s draped across your dining room chair}.
Snip basil from stems, measure oil, grate Parmesan cheese, peel and blanch garlic, and toast pine nuts.
Puree garlic, pine nuts and salt with food processor {or even better, a mortar and pestle}. Add basil and process in.
Add in cheese, blend, and then incorporate oil. {According to Martha you should use the best-quality extra virgin olive oil, but we used the oil from Publix that was buy-one-get-one the week previous, and it worked just fine. So don’t let ‘ole Martha intimidate you with her fancy talk. She gets paid to say stuff like that. And I don’t blame her.}
Oh, so good.
When potatoes are tender, and I mean really tender, peel off the skin with a pairing knife.
Pass through a food mill or potato ricer.
Plop some flour and egg on top of the heap . . .
. . . and work it, work it like bread dough.
Shape.
And then shape again, into ropes. And while you’re taking orders from me, just chop those ropes into 1-inch pieces.
The next part was tricky so we made a video. Hope it helps. Shape the pieces one final time using the tines of a fork.
Step back and admire those pretty little potato pieces. They’re almost like fancy {healthier} tater tots!
Cook the potato pasta in batches and keep warm. {The slotted spoon worked really well for this.}
Toss with pesto and consume. Considering all the work that goes in to this meal you’ll have earned yourself some extra wiggle room in your calorie budget . . . if you’re not like me and are diligent enough to have one . . . so eat up!

Gnocchi with Basil Pesto
{serves 8 to 10}

[Gnocchi]
_________________________
2 1/4 lbs. russet potatoes {about 3 large}
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 C all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading and dusting
coarse salt
basil leaves, for garnish {optional}

Cook potatoes and pass through ricer Cover whole {unpeeled} potatoes in a medium pot with 2 inches of water. Bring to boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until tender when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife, 35 to 40 minutes. Drain well, and then peel: Holding each potato with a thick, dry kitchen towel {they will be too hot to hold directly}, remove the skin with a pairing knife. Immediately pass the potatoes through a ricer. Spread out on a baking sheet and let cool completely.

Mix dough Turn out potatoes onto a work surface, then pour the egg over the potatoes and sprinkle with 1 1/2 cups flour and 1 tablespoon salt. Start to work the mixture with your hands and bring it together to form a dough; then gently knead 4 to 5 minutes, adding more flour {up to 1/2 cup total} as necessary to keep the dough from sticking, until dough is smooth and elastic. {To check, pinch off a piece and roll into a rope; it should not break apart.} Pat dough into a rough rectangle, 2 to 3 inches thick.

Cut and shape Line a rimmed baking sheet with a dry clean kitchen towel {or parchment paper} and sprinkle liberally with flour. Use a bench scraper to divide dough into four to six pieces. Begin gently rolling each piece under the palms of your hands into a rope, then continue rolling until it is 1/2 inch in diameter. Use the bench scraper to cut ropes crosswise into 1-inch pieces. Roll a cut side of each dumpling against the tines of a fork with your thumb {each piece will have ridges on one side and an indentation on the other}. Set gnocchi in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. If not cooking immediately, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate up to 2 hours.

Cook Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then add a generous amount of salt. Working in small batches, add gnocchi and cook until they float to the top, about 2 minutes. Remove gnocchi with a slotted spoon and gently shake off excess water before placing in a large pasta bowl. {If not serving immediately, cool, drain thoroughly, toss with a little extra-virgin olive oil, and refrigerate in a covered container for up to 3 hours. Reheat slowly on the stove with the serving sauce or melted butter. Freezing gnocchi is not recommended.} Toss with pesto while boiling remaining gnocchi.

Serve Once the last batch has been boiled, drained, and tossed with pesto, divide gnocchi among bowls and serve at once, garnished with basil.

[basil pesto]
_________________________
3 garlic cloves, peeled
2 C loosely packed fresh basil leaves
3 Tbsp pine nuts, toasted
1/2 tsp coarse salt
1/3 C grated Parmesan cheese {grated on the holes of a box grater}
1/2 C extra-virgin olive oil

Blanch garlic Cover garlic in a small saucepan with water by 1 inch. Bring to a boil over high heat, then immediately drain and let garlic cool to room temperature.

Toast Pine Nuts Spread nuts evenly on a baking sheet and toast in a 350 degree oven, stirring occasionally, until lightly golden, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a plate to cool.

Make Pesto With a large mortar and pestle {or food processor}, pound together garlic, pine nuts, and salt. Then add in basil and pulverize until pasty, about 10 minutes {by hand}. Add the cheese and pound to incorporate. Mixing vigorously, pour in oil in a slow steady stream, and mix until combined {it will not be emulsified}. Serve immediately or cover with a layer of oil and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 3 days.

{I actually halved this recipe since it makes such a large amount.}
So what about you and your special other, or mother, or sister, or brother? Do you like to cook together?
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