Potato Gnocchi with Three Sauces

Potato Gnocchi with three sauces

Gnocchi Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ pounds Idaho potatoes
  • 1 extra large egg
  • 1 ½ cups flour, plus more for the work surface
  • At least 1 tablespoon of sea salt for the cooking water

Cooking Directions

  1. Put the potatoes in a pot and cover with water about 2 inches above the top of the potatoes. Bring the potatoes to a gentle boil.
  2. Boil the potatoes until they are knife tender about 30-40 minutes. Try to keep the skins from rupturing so the potatoes don’t absorb any water and don’t overcook them.
  3. Let the potatoes cool a bit so that you can handle them. Peel them. If they’re too hot to handle use a kitchen towel to hold the hot potato when you peel them.
  4. Put the potatoes through a ricer or food mill while the potatoes are still hot. Mashing the potatoes works in a pinch but the gnocchi won’t be as light.
  5. Spread the riced potatoes on a cookie sheet or a flat baking pan in a single layer to cool and allow some of the moisture to evaporate. The drier the riced potatoes the lighter the dough will be.
  6. Bring a big pot of very well-salted water to a boil.
  7. Put the riced potatoes in a mound on a flat work surface. Create a well in the middle.
  8. Crack the egg onto the work surface in the well. Beat the egg well. (I don’t salt fresh pasta doughs including gnocchi because I think salt toughens the dough. I’d rather the gnocchi absorb salt in the boiling cooking water. But, if you want add about 3/4 teaspoon of salt to the egg before you beat it.)
  9. Slowly start to incorporate the egg into the ring of riced potatoes.
  10. When fully incorporated spread out the mixture and sprinkle some of the flour over the top.
  11. Knead the flour into the potato mixture.
  12. Repeat with another dusting of flour until the dough holds together and is smooth and soft. Try to use as little flour as possible for light gnocchi.
  13. Sprinkle some flour on the work surface so the dough doesn’t stick. Knead the dough to create a smooth dough ball.
  14. Cut the dough ball into 6 pieces.
  15. Flour the work surface again if necessary and roll each piece into a rope of 1/2 inch diameter.
  16. Cut the rope into ½ inch pieces. Make sure you have enough flour on your work surface so that the pieces don’t stick together.
  17. Using the back of a fork press the piece over the tines with your thumb and press downwards to push the gnocchi off the fork. You’ll create indentations from the tines on the back of the gnocchi and a concave indentation on the other side from the pressure of your thumb. Great shape and texture to absorb the sauce.
  18. Spread the gnocchi on a floured cookie sheet or flat baking pan as you make them.
  19. Drop the gnocchi into the boiling water, gently stir to make sure they don’t stick together and gently boil the gnocchi until they rise to the top of the water.
  20. Remove the gnocchi with a spider or mesh ladle and place them in the sauté pan with the sauce of your choice.

Makes about 48 gnocchi.

Don’t get interrupted when you’re making the gnocchi. When you finish making them all put them in the boiling water and eat them right away! Or, you can freeze them in a single layer on a cookie sheet or shallow baking pan. Make sure they not touching one another! When they’re frozen store them in a freezer bag. Boil them still frozen. They’ll take a little longer to cook.

Pesto Trapanese Recipe

Basil pesto ain’t the only one. Small ripe tomatoes and roasted almonds are the stars of this pesto. Basil is only a minor player. This uncooked sauce made in a blender or food processor takes only a few minutes. The aroma and taste of the almonds is front and center supported by the sweetness of the tomatoes and the sparkle of the hot pepper as you swallow.

Good for 1 pound or 500 grams of spaghetti or the yield from one full potato gnocchi recipe or your favorite pasta shape.

Ingredients

  • 2 ½ cups or ¾ pound of the ripest and sweetest cherry, pear or other small red tomato
  • 1 large garlic clove, smashed
  • 10-12 large fresh basil leaves
  • ½ cup whole almonds, roasted or lightly toasted
  • ¼ teaspoon peperoncino flakes
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ cup EVOO
  • ½ cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Grana Padano

Cooking Directions

  1.  Put the garlic, almonds, pepper flakes, basil leaves, tomatoes and then the sea salt in a food processor or blender.
  2. Blend for about a minute or so, scrape down the sides and then blend again until no large bits are visible.
  3. While the machine is running gently stream in the EVOO until the pesto is smooth and well blended.

Use the pesto at room temperature to dress the pasta. Top the dressed pasta with the grated Parmigiano Parmigiano. You can store it in the refrigerator for a few days.

Gorgonzola Sauce Recipe

A quick delicious piquant sauce you can make in less than the time it takes to boil the water for the pasta. The flavor of this noble blue cheese from northern Italia is the boss in this sugo. You don’t need a lot of the sauce. Just a thin coating on the pasta is what you want.

Good for 1 pound or 500 grams of pasta or the yield from one full potato gnocchi recipe.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 4 ounces gorgonzola dolce
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • ½ cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Grana Padano

Cooking Directions

  1. Heat the cream stirring frequently so a skin doesn’t form on top.
  2. When the cream is reduced and thickened add the gorgonzola and stir until the gorgonzola is melted and well blended with the cream.
  3. Mix in sea salt and pepper to taste.

Top the dressed pasta with the grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Grana Padano.

Pizzaiola Sauce Recipe

Named after the pizza-makers of Napoli this sauce is just San Marzano tomatoes, garlic infused olive oil and oregano, a typical topping for a pizza. Simple and quick but a rich and robust sugo. I use this sauce for pasta, my eggplant parmigiano and other dishes that call for a flavorful tomato sauce.

Good for 1 pound or 500 grams of your favorite pasta or the yield from one full potato gnocchi recipe.

Ingredients

  • 1 28 oz. can of San Marzano tomatoes, crushed by hand
  • 3 tablespoons EVOO
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ cup grated pecorino

Cooking Directions

  1. Put the olive oil and garlic in a cold sauté pan big enough to hold the cooked pasta your using.
  2. Heat the pan over medium-high heat until the oil sizzles and the garlic just begins to take on some color.
  3. Add the tomatoes and salt and mix with the EVOO and garlic.
  4. Simmer to evaporate some of the liquid and the sauce thickens.
  5. Stir in the oregano.
  6. Continue cooking for about 30 minutes.
  7. Remove the garlic before using the sauce, or not. Your choice.

Top the dressed pasta with the grated pecorino.

Hint: Sometimes things go wrong. Don’t be discouraged, forge ahead!

Gorgonzola, Prosciutto and Pear Pizza

Gorgonzola, Prosciutto and Pear Pizza

Watch the Pizza Margherita episode to see how the dough is made.

I got slammed by a cousin in Sicily who complained that they never put fruit on pizza. I told him that this was a San Francisco thing. This is a white pizza, no tomato topping. In Rome, they make a long pizza bianca with just EVOO, sea salt and rosemary. In Campania they make a white pizza with EVOO, sea salt and oregano. These white pizzas are great on their own but also as an accompaniment to an antipasto or a salad. This one is a symphony, the sweet pear, the saltiness of the prosciutto, the tanginess of the gorgonzola and the harmonizing influence of the fresh mozzarella.

Video link.

Recipe

Place a pizza stone on the bottom oven shelf. If you don’t have a pizza stone, you can bake the pizza on a floured cookie sheet.

Pre-heat the oven to your highest temperature. Mine goes to 550 degrees. The oven should be at temperature for 30 minutes before baking the pizza.

Ingredients

Dough

  • 4 cups flour (I use unbleached All Purpose (”AP”) flour or “00” flour, more finely milled and used for pizza dough in Italy. Bread flour works too.)
  • 1 cup water, at about 100 degrees
  • 2½ teaspoons active yeast (one packet)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup water

Toppings

  • 2 oz. gorgonzola dolce, cut or broken into small cubes or “dots”
  • 4 thin slices of prosciutto, torn or cut into 16 pieces
  • 6-8 oz. fresh mozzarella cut into 1/2 inch slices and the slices ripped or cut in half
  • one ripe pear, thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons EVOO
  • Fresh ground black pepper

Cooking Directions

Watch the Pizza Margherita episode to see how the dough is made.

Wet Ingredients

In a large measuring cup or bowl, put 1 cup of water at about 100 degrees and no more than 110 degrees (too hot and you’ll kill the yeast). I use water a bit warmer than my body temperature. Stir in the yeast and mix well. Add ½ cup of the flour. Mix well. Cover tightly and put in a warm place for 30 minutes. The mixture should double in volume or about 2 cups. This is the first “proof” of the yeast. If the mixture (called a sponge) doesn’t increase in volume the yeast is probably dead and therefore not “active.” If the yeast mixture doesn’t rise properly throw it out and start again. Better to find out now than later.  That’s why it’s called the first “proof” that the yeast is active. Yeah, right.

Dry Ingredients

  1. Put the remaining 3½ cups of flour and the salt in a large bowl. Mix to distribute the salt. Add the risen yeast mixture and the remaining ¼ cup water. (I use this last ¼ cup to wash out the container used for the first proof so that all the remaining yeast is “sloshed” out and into the bowl.) Mix dry and wet ingredients well with a fork or wooden spoon. When little dry flour remains, use your hands to finish mixing the ingredients into an integrated ball of dough. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and incorporate the scrapings into the dough. The dough should be a bit sticky to the touch. If it’s too dry, add a few drops of water at a time until it’s just a bit sticky. If it’s too wet, give it a light dusting of flour until it’s just a bit sticky.
  2. Place the dough on a floured flat work surface. Knead the dough with the heel of your hands. It will feel rough, granular or gritty when you start. When it feels totally silky-smooth you’ve kneaded it enough. To get from gritty to silky-smooth could take as much as 10 minutes, but I usually hit that texture in about 5 minutes. Form the dough into a compact ball.
  3. Put the ball back in the bowl you used to mix the wet and dry ingredients. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and cover with a kitchen towel. Put in a warm place. (This is the second proof.) When the dough doubles in size take it out of the bowl, reforming a ball and place on a floured board.

Making the Pizza

  1. Cut the dough ball into 4 equal pieces. (Each of these 4 dough balls will make 1 pizza, 10 to 12 inches in diameter (or one calzone). For a larger or thicker pizza, use two dough balls.)
  2. Use one dough ball for the Pizza Margherita. Put the other 3 dough balls to the side and cover with plastic wrap to keep a crust from forming. If you do not use all of the dough now you can put unused dough balls into tightly closed plastic bags for future use. The dough will last at least 5 days in the refrigerator. You can freeze the dough balls. Be sure to bring the dough to room temperature before forming pizzas from previously frozen dough.
  3. To form the pizza, push down on the dough ball with the tips of your fingers to begin shaping a round disc. When you reach a diameter of about 6 inches, pick up the dough, and holding it at the rim, begin stretching the dough using its own weight to help increase the diameter of the dough. Keep moving your fingers around the rim of the dough. Then, place the dough on your fist and gently pull it from the edge to stretch it more. When you reach a 10 to 12 inch diameter and the dough is about a uniform ¼ inch thick, you’re done. (For a thinner crust going towards a “cracker” crust keep stretching the dough until it is very thin and almost translucent.)
  4. Put the dough on a well-floured pizza peel (also called a pizza paddle). If there are any holes in the dough patch them. Make sure the dough moves freely on the pizza peel.
  5. Sprinkle the EVOO evenly over the surface of the dough. Scatter the pears evenly over the dough, then the gorgonzola, then the mozzarella slices, and then the pieces of sliced prosciutto. Grind black pepper to taste.
  6. Place the pizza on the pizza stone by holding the pizza peel at a 20-degree angle and slipping the pizza onto the middle of the stone. Bake for 6-8 minutes, until the mozzarella takes on a tan hue, the prosciutto is slightly crisp, and the rim of the crust is slightly browned. Take it out of the oven using the peel. When tapped with your finger, the dough should sound hollow. The bottom of the pizza should have some dark brown/black spots for texture and taste.

Let the pizza cool a bit and then slice into six slices.

Serve immediately.

Watch the Pizza Margherita episode to see how the dough is made.