I believe most of you already know that I absolutely adore pasta and sauces. And why not? They are part of the five main food groups along with coffee, chocolate, and bacon. So of course I love them. They also happen to be the main reason I am filled to the brim of slimness. But that’s another story better held for another day.
Because today, I want the spotlight to be shining directly on this dish, which includes both a fabulous pasta which can be served with a variety of sauces and an incredible cream sauce which can be paired with a multitude of various pasta shapes. (See – it’s really not just all about me all the time!)
The gnocchi recipe is from Chef Geoffrey Zakarian. The sauce, well it’s a combination of recipes I have been preparing for years. But this time, the sauce was unbelievably delicious. And the gnocchi? Well let’s just say that if Mr. Zakarian walked in my home today, I would be down on my knees kissing his feet! OK, maybe I exaggerate about kissing his feet. But I would probably become so effusive with my complements that he would prefer if I just kissed his feet than to listen to any more of my verbal barrage. (I’m sure some of you feel the same way about my written ramblings.) But I digress…..
But truly, this is the sort of dish you would expect to be served in an excellent Italian restaurant. The gnocchi are like little soft pillows of flavor. The sauce is creamy and so tasty. And when garnished with toasted walnuts, it even has that crunch we all so dearly love.
So next time you want to treat your family and friends, fix this recipe and watch everyone at your table roll their eyes or gently sigh in response to the amazing flavors and textures in this pasta dish. And believe me, if I can make this gnocchi, you can too. All it takes is a little leap of faith in yourself. And of course it doesn’t hurt that it’s about the easiest and fastest pasta to make. No pasta machine required. Just a bit of extra flour, a pair of hands that don’t mind getting a little covered in flour, and a sharp knife or pastry scraper. And preparing the sauce? Very simple. Just have all your ingredients ready when you begin your sauce. You don’t want to be chopping parsley or toasting walnuts at the last minute. Have fun with this recipe and happy eating.
- 1 (15-oz,) container whole milk ricotta cheese
- ½ c. finely grated Parmesan cheese
- 1½ T. extra virgin olive oil
- 2 lg. eggs
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- 1¼ c. unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- semolina flour, for dusting
- Combine the ricotta cheese, Parmesan, olive oil, eggs, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add the all-purpose flour in 3 parts, stirring after each addition. Dust a work surface (I use a pastry cloth) with plenty of flour. Scoop the dough out of the mixing bowl, and with floured hands, knead about 4 times before gently rolling into a ball. Cut into 4 quarters using a floured pastry scraper or a sharp knife.Roll the first wedge of dough into a dowel shape about 5/8-inch in diameter. Cut the “dowel” into 5/8-inch pieces. Place the gnocchi on a semolina or regular flour dusted baking sheet. Repeat with the rest of the dough. Set aside.When your sauce is ready, cook the gnocchi in boiling salted water for about 2 minutes. (The gnocchi will float to the top of the water when it’s done.) Transfer the cooked gnocchi directly into the pan with the sauce using a flat headed strainer or a slotted spoon. (Be sure not to crowd your pan. When I cook the gnocchi I divide the tiny little pillows of dough in half. And since the gnocchi only take a couple of minutes to cook, and your pot of water is still hot, there is no problem with the first set just languishing in the lovely sauce while the second set cooks. (Save a small amount of the pasta water in case your sauce is too thick.)Note: Uncooked gnocchi can be frozen for up to 2 weeks.
Gorgonzola Cream Sauce:
1½ c. heavy whipping cream
1/8 tsp. kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
smidgen* cayenne pepper
5-6 oz. crumbled Gorgonzola cheese – not the creamy or dolce (sweet) kind
¼ c. finely grated Parmesan cheese
3 T. chopped Italian parsley, divided
½ c. chopped toasted walnuts, opt.
Pour the cream, salt, pepper, and cayenne into a heavy pan, bring to a simmer, and cook until it reduces by almost a half, about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Mix in Gorgonzola cheese, stirring gently until almost melted. Stir in most of the parsley and the Parmesan cheese. Carefully toss in the cooked gnocchi. If the sauce is too thick, thin it with a little of the pasta cooking water.
Transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle with walnuts and the remaining parsley. Serve immediately.
*For accuracy in measuring a smidgen, pinch, or a dash of something, get yourself a set of measuring spoons. They are ever so helpful. Plus being cute as can be. What I did one year was buy several sets and tied them into the bows of Christmas packages for my girls and other family members. And of course, kept a set for myself.