In Italian cuisine, gnocchi are treated as a first course and are featured among the pasta dishes on a menu. Classic gnocchi are made of potatoes and flour and served with different sauces. Since it’s difficult for me to be limited to one sauce and one flavor, I serve gnocchi with a duo of sauces. This recipe calls for a tomato sauce and a walnut-olive oil drizzle over the gnocchi. It’s simple to make and a delight to the eye and palate.
Prep time: 15 to 20 minutes
Serves: 3 to 4
One pound (16 ounces) ready-made gnocchi (vacuum-packed or frozen)
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup tomato sauce, made ahead (see tomato sauce recipe for spaghetti, previously published on this blog on 8-25-10)
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Dash ground black pepper
1/2 cup freshly ground walnuts
4 walnut halves (for garnish)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino Romano cheese
1. In a 5-quart saucepot, bring 3 quarts of water to a boil. Add the gnocchi and salt.
2. Cook on medium-high heat, uncovered, until gnocchi rise to the surface (about 3 to 4 minutes).
3. Transfer saucepot to a cool surface. With a slotted spoon, gently remove gnocchi from water, dividing them equally among three or four dinner plates.
4. Working with one plate of gnocchi at a time, drizzle one tablespoon of the oil on half of the gnocchi, followed by some black pepper and a sprinkle of walnuts.
5. Garnish with a walnut half. Spoon some tomato on other half of the gnocchi in plate and garnish with a parsley sprig.
6. Repeat with remaining plates of gnocchi. Ask each guest to add their own cheese.
Wine suggestion: Bordeaux (red or white).
Note: Do not overcook gnocchi, as they will become mushy and fall apart. When buying gnocchi, you may have to experiment with different brands until you find one that you like.
My favorite Italian brands are: Ferrara® and DeCecco®. Both varieties are vacuum-packed and found in the pasta section of supermarkets or international markets.
As for a frozen brand, I recently found La Salteña® gnocchi at an Argentine market/restaurant called Buenos Aires, located in Van Nuys, California.
Text and Photographs ©2010 Nancy DeLucia Real