August 7, 2017This is about... Yummy GNOCCHI with CREAMY SAGE SAUCE
ONCE UPON A TIME...... I HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO VISIT ITALY. I got to sing at a huge folk festival in San Remo, and eat some of THE MOST MEMORABLE GNOCCHI I had ever had. My friend, Germana, performed on this grand stage in front of thousands of people with me accompanying her on piano and singing behind her in Italian----FINALLY ALL THOSE YEARS OF OPERA LESSONS WERE PAYING OFF. This festival always honored one musician every year. And to my great excitement, JONI MITCHELL, MY IDOL, was being honored. I HAD HOPED TO REALLY CONNECT WITH HER , but as luck would have it, I only got to shake her fragile hand backstage. Even though it’s been decades, I can still hear her “A Case of You” playing in my head. ONCE THE FESTIVAL HAD ENDED, GERMANA LED ME TO THOSE HAUNTINGLY DELICIOUS GNOCCHI. I travelled back to her family home in Pietrasanta on the west coast. Staying there, I became a real “Italian” for a few days, cooking and being served everything fresh from their markets. We also ate at some of their local spots, so far off the beaten path that no tourist would ever find them. The GNOCCHI turned up at A LOVELY RESTAURANT, the name long forgotten, constructed of uneven bricks and mortar that enclosed an ancient olive oil press surrounded by white linen covered dining tables. They were placed in front of me--- SOFT,DELICATE PILLOWSof potato, egg and parmesan, all held together with alittle flour--- coated in a creamy sauce so fragrant with fresh sage, garlic and parmesan that I had to stop, just for a second, to savor their aroma before placing the first one in my mouth. Meltingly tender, I treasured every bite. HOW I WISH I COULD BACK THERE RIGHT NOW. I’ve tried my best to come as close as I could to my memory of them. They may sound a little intimidating to make, BUT THEY AREN’T—just kind of messy. Basically, you going to have to dig your hands into the dough to mix it and roll it into logs on a floury surface to cut. If you’re up to the challenge, you could have homemade ones in under an hour. I really do love these in the simplest way possible, boiled with melted butter and salt. I WOULD TAKE THESE OVER MASHED POTATOES ANY DAY. And, this garlicky, cheesy cream sauce with a hint of fresh sage is yummy too! Every time I taste these silky pillows coated in that creamy sauce infused with the sage and garlic, I’m transported right back to my Italian adventure. I may never perform in San Remo again, or meet Joni Mitchell again, but I’ll always have the gnocchi. BUON APPETITO! LESSONS Learned: 1. A food ricer is a great tool to make sure you get that fluffy, light texture. They’re cheap and great for mashed potatoes too. 2. It’s important once the potatoes are baked, to use them as soon as they are cool enough to handle. Don’t let them completely cool first. 3. These are easily frozen. Spread them out in a single layer on a baking sheet dusted with flour, freeze until solid and then transfer to a plastic freezer bag or container for up to 3 months. 4. I have a ton of sage and other herbs in pots on my sunny deck. If you like alot of sauce, you may want to double the sauce recipe. But, if you don’t want to make the creamy sage sauce? I love these simply boiled and coated in butter and sprinkled with salt just as much. YUM!
YUMMY GNOCCHI with CREAMY SAGE SAUCE
For the Gnocchi:
4 large Russet potatoes, about 3 pounds
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt or to taste
¼ teaspoon finely ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated if possible
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, divided
3 egg yolks, lightly beaten
For the Creamy Sage Sauce:
6 Tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter
2 cloves garlic, minced, about 3/4 to 1 teaspoon
6-9 fresh sage leaves
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/2 cup reserved gnocchi cooking water
Freshly ground black pepper
extra grated parmesan for sprinkling on top
Make the gnocchi:
Preheat oven to 450°F. Prick potatoes several times with a fork and bake for about 1 hour, until completely cooked through.
When the potatoes are just cool enough to handle, split them lengthwise and scoop out the flesh into a ricer or food mill. Measure out 6 cups of the riced potatoes. Reserve any extra for another use. Alternatively, in batches, you can push it through a strainer into a bowl.
In a small pot, add the olive oil and butter, heat to melt the butter and stir in the salt, pepper and nutmeg. Drizzle over the potatoes.
Add the cheese and 1 cup of the flour. Stir to combine. And then using your hands, work in the egg yolks so they are evenly distributed throughout.
Dust a work surface with the remaining 1/2 cup flour. Turn the potato dough out onto the work surface and immediately knead it into a fat log. Cut it into 6 pieces and roll each piece into snakes about 3/4-inch wide. Cut the snakes into 1-inch pieces. If you like, you can create a marking on each piece, by rolling it down the tines on the back of a fork. To prevent them from drying out, keep the gnocchi covered with a kitchen towel. Refrigerate for up to 12 hours or freeze until ready to cook.
Make the creamy sage sauce:
Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat, add the butter and melt. Add the garlic and sage and cook for 1 minute. Add the cream and bring to a boil and continue to boil for about 2 mnutes. Lower the heat, and stir in the parmesan. Taste for salt. You may want a pinch or 2. Reduce heat to very low, stirring occasionally while gnocchi is cooking.
Cook the gnocchi:
Cook gnocchi in salted boiling water for about 2-3 minutes, until they float to the top of the pot. From frozen they may take another minute longer. Reserve ½ cup of the starchy cooking liquid and drain. Add the gnocchi to the pan of cream sauce, and gently toss to coat, if necessary, adding some of the reserved cooking liquid to thin out the sauce. Serve topped with extra cheese, and a few grinds of black pepper.
Makes 4-6 servings. YUM!