I am a realist. I weigh time versus effort and know enough about time and energy to realize that sometimes, “good enough is good enough. (One Minute Food Byte how to chiffonade basil)
I love cooking and I don’t mind spending a lot of time in the kitchen making an elaborate or lengthy recipe, but the results must be equal to the time involved for it to be a “do-over”. When I first got married, I made a rule, if I made something new, Spencer would have to tell me how much he liked it. If I’d spent a lot of time preparing a dish, (North African with homemade harissa) and he wasn’t bowled over and drooling, I would cross it off my list of things to make. On the other hand, if I made something tasty that didn’t take too long time, or wasn’t overly complicated. it went to the top of my do-over list.
Because of this, I use jarred tomato sauce! Horrors you say? Time versus effort. Plus, if I’m using it to make lasagna, that’s time intensive in itself. BUT, you can bet that if I were retired and living in a villa in Tuscany, not only would I be making the sauce all day long, from tomatoes I’d canned, I’d also be stomping my own grapes! Hey, it’s Italy, baby!
The first time I ever made Gnocchi, it was Gorgonzola Gnocchi. LOTS of time. End result? Good, but not time versus effort good! I shelved the idea of gnocchi away for a rainy day.
Still, it was nagging at me. Give the gnocchi another chance! I created this version using ground walnuts and rice flour in place of wheat flour, added fresh basil and finished it off with simply, with browned butter, toasted walnuts and a little crumbled Gorgonzola. Gorgonzola packs a punch, so just a few teaspoons delivers a lot of flavor. Gnocchi is a rich dish, so a small portion is plenty as an appetizer or side dish.
Spinach, Ricotta And Basil Gnocchi With Browned Butter, Toasted Walnuts And Gorgonzola
1 1/2 pounds fresh baby spinach
2 cups ricotta
1/2 cup fresh Parmesan cheese
3/4 cup (about) rice flour
1/4 cup finely ground walnuts
2 large egg yolks
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
Big pinch of ground nutmeg
- In a large pot of salted, boiling water, blanch spinach for about a minute, until it turns bright green. Drain, cool, squeeze out excess water and chop fine.
- Mix spinach, basil, ricotta, parmesan, ground walnuts, 1/2 cup rice flour, yolks, salt, pepper and nutmeg in a large bowl until a dough forms.
- Working in small batches, using remaining flour to coat your hands and surface, roll dough into ropes, about 1/2″ in diameter. Cut rope into 1″ pieces and form into ovals. (This is a great task for the kids!) Place finished gnocchi on a cookie sheet. Repeat with remaining dough.
4.In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook gnocchi, in small batches, about 4-5 minutes.
Brown Butter Walnut and Gorgonzola Sauce
1 stick of unsalted butter
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1/3 cup crumbled Gorgonzola
Fresh basil, chiffonade
- In a medium saute pan, over a medium heat, toast chopped walnuts about 1 minute.
- Add butter and melt, stirring until butter is a light golden brown and smell nutty.
- Pour over warmed gnocchi. Sprinkle with chiffonade of basil and crumbled Gorgonzola.
Serves 8 as a first course or side dish.