I am a big fan of gnocchi. I know some people it to be a touch on the heavy side, but I find that with a modicum of self-restraint in portion sizing, they are marvellously satisfying. When it comes to sauces for the little dumplings of joy, though, I had only experimented with riffs on blue cheese or napoletana bases up ’til now. Opening the fridge, I was this time, however, confronted with the usual panoply of healthy vegetables with which the Avant-Gardener likes to stock his kitchen. Mushrooms were the first candidates to be roped into the sauce – no huge surprises there – but then I was tempted by a co-star that was just unusual enough to work: broccoli.
With a lick of olive oil to lubricate the pan, some minced garlic was briefly sautéed, followed by some sliced mushrooms. I sliced the broccoli up into fairly small chunks, and then added them to the pan to cook for a touch. This being done, a generous knob of butter was introduced into the equation, followed by a liberal sprinkle of flour. This mixture was left on the heat briefly to let the flour cook out, and then milk was added until it reached the right consistency – something just a touch thicker than thick cream.
The end now in sight, a healthy handful of grated parmesan was added to the sauce, with a liberal grinding of black pepper. All this while, some water was put on the boil, and the gnocchi given their brief cooking while the sauce finished up. The cooked gnocchi was tossed in the sauce to coat, and then served up with another generous sprinkle of cheese.
Now, it may seem like a strange combination, but the broccoli adds a welcome crunch to the sometimes too-squidgy gnocchi. The presence of some greenery also assuages the guilt of a cheesy sauce, so it’s win-win on all accounts. Deliciousness abounds.
I am a sucker for gnocchi. I know that they’re usually an incredibly rib-stickingly heavy meal, especially when combined with a rather sinful blue cheese sauce, but I think food needs a certain amount of indulgence to be worthwhile. Even if only once in a while.
So, on one of those neverending Friday afternoons at work, when it feels like 5 o’clock is never going to come true, what did I find but a marvellous recipe for the heavenly lovechild of gnocchi and ravioli – be still my beating heart. It’s from the rather lovely Koek! blog, to which I would definitely recommend a visit.
Now, I had only ever attempted to make gnocchi on one rather abortive occasion. Needless to say, all I ended up with was a plate of terrifyingly dense and sticky potato bullets that were all but inedible. I decided to give it another chance with this recipe though – being devoid of potato, I thought it might have a different cooking karma around it.
It’s all easy enough to execute – wilt some spinach, then squeeze out the liquid and chop. When combined with some ricotta, flour, parmesan and egg, you’re left with a sticky-ish dough (I suppose it would be called). This is then deftly rolled out on a floured surface and chopped into little dumpling-ettes. With a brief boiling, and subsequent caress of napoletana sauce, they make for a marvellous dinner.
I can see myself doing this as a starter in future. You can make the gnudi in advance (I did for this) and just cook them up when you’re ready to eat. How lovely.