Gnocchi!

Gee, are’t you glad we’ve galloped along to the letter g?

And to a big ol bowl of gnocchi!

I love gnocchi.

But it’s not a dish I grew up with.

See, Italian food is very regionally specific. My family comes from Naples and gnocchi comes from Northern Italy, the other side of town.

So I don’t have a gnocchi recipe passed down from my grandma.

Instead, I have one I found on Food 52 courtesy of Christina. This is her grandma DiLaura’s gnocchi recipe.

So thank you, Christina for sharing, and thank you, grandma DiLaura for passing it down.

Most people think of potato dumplings when they think of gnocchi. But that’s just limiting yourself to the vast potentials of gnocchi! This recipe here is a ricotta version that is the lighter fluffier more pillowy cousin of the potato gnocchi.

It sounds intimidating, making your own gnocchi. But I promise you, it’s super simple and well worth the extra 20 minutes or so that making your own takes versus opening a package from the grocery store.

You will need

  • 1pound fresh whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1large egg
  • 1tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4cup finely grated parmesan cheese
  • 2cups flour, sifted, plus extra for rolling dough

Add the ricotta egg and oil to a bowl and mix.

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add the parmesan and mix

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add the flour, one cup at a time, mixing in between.

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stir until the dough comes together

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then turn out onto a floured surface

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Divide the dough, lengthwise, into 4 pieces so it’s easier to work with.

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Now, like when you were a kid playing with playdough, start rolling the dough section out like a snake.

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working your hands out from the center so the snake gets longer and thinner

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when it’s about 1-2 inches wide (depending on how big you want your gnocchi) slice the dough into 1 inch pieces.

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Next, take a fork and one of your little dumplings

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and roll the gnocchi over the tines of the fork to make grooves in it

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the sauce will stick inside those little ridges

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Repeat until all your dough is made into cure little gnocchi

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These can be used right away or they can ┬ábe frozen for later use. If freezing, lay out on parchment paper in a single layer so the gnocchi aren’t touching and pop in the freezer for an hour.

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Once they are frozen, you can pop them into a ziploc bag.

To prepare, remove from the freezer and drop gently into a pot of boiling water. Gnocchi are done when they rise to the top.

Top with a simple tomato sauce, pesto or aglio e olio

pasta e Fagioli

I missed E on the A to Z challenge. I got hit with a stomach bug and couldn’t manage anything more than channel surfing on the couch.

I’m going to cheat a little and sneak in the e here with the f. The first thing I was able to eat was scrambled eggs. Made by mom. You’re never too old to ask mom to come take care of you when you’re sick! And no matter what, mom’s scrambled eggs always taste better than mine.

So now I’m on the mend and I’m moving on to F.

Fagioli is Italian for beans.

Pasta e Fagioli is, simply, pasta and beans. It’s one of those amazingly simple Italian dishes that is really one of those poor man’s meals. I mean, it’s pasta and beans. Cheap ingredients. But those are the kind of meals that are the best.

Simple ingredients will always make the most delicious dinners.

There are two ways of making it. One’s in a red sauce and one’s in a garlicky white sauce. My family is partial to the red, so that’s what this recipe is for.

I’ve made it a couple times and have tweaked the recipe every time. But this time, I got it.

My fiance and my dad both told me to continue to make it this way. There are some times when you just don’t argue with the men in your life.

You will need:

  • 1 15 oz can whole peeled plum tomatoes
  • 1 can of cannellini beans
  • 1 small white onion, chopped
  • 3 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2/3 cup tomato puree
  • 1-2 cups of water (depending on how thick you want it)
  • 2 cups elbow macaroni (or any other short pasta)
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper

In a heavy-bottomed soup pot, drizzle some olive oil and toss in the onions. Turn to medium heat.

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When the onions are translucent, add the celery and the garlic. (My garlic is green. I know. As a time saver, we crush a bunch of garlic cloves and put the crushed cloves in a container with some olive oil and store it in the fridge. This is a meme trick. If the garlic is young, it will react with the olive oil and turn green. It’s fine. There’s nothing wrong with it. It’s just the color of the stuff that turned the turtles into the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.)

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Let the celery soften, then add the can of tomatoes.

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And the tomato puree and 1 cup of water. Season with salt and pepper and let the mix simmer for about 15-20 minutes.

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Turn the burner off and, using an immersion blender (or a blender or food processor) blend the mix.

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If, at this point, the mix is too thick for your taste, add in more water.

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Turn the heat back to medium and add the rinsed and drained cannellini beans.

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and your pasta and give a big stir.

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Let this simmer for about ten minutes, until your pasta is cooked. You can let it go for longer on low. At this point, you can also pop it in the fridge for dinner another night.

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Dish up a big bowl, add a piece of crusty bread and mangia!

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Eggplant Parm. Baked Ziti

So there’s a dish called Penne Al Forno, which is a baked penne dish with eggplant in it.

But let’s be real. This pile of cheesy, eggplanty, pasta-goodness can masquerade behind a fancy name all it wants. We know the truth. It’s really just an epic mashup of two of our favorites: eggplant parm and baked ziti.

And it is a glorious way to end a rainy, dreary Monday.

For this recipe you will need:

  • 1 eggplant, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 1/2 box of pasta (penne’s great but I had elbows on hand. Use what you have!)
  • 15 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • mozzarella
  • parmesan
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper

Preheat the oven to 350.

For this dinner, I used an ovenproof deep skillet so I could cut this down to a 2 pot night. But if you don’t have something that works, you can transfer from a skillet to a baking dish.

No problem.

 

 

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Drizzle some olive oil in a pot and toss in your eggplant chunks. Season with salt and lots of black pepper.

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When the eggplant is browned, add your garlic and the can of diced tomatoes and let the mix simmer away.

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Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to a boil and cook your pasta.

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Add your drained pasta to the pot of eggplant and tomatoes (or transfer to a baking dish)

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Toss in some chunks of mozzarella and then give a big stir.

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Top with more mozzarella and a sprinkling of parmesan cheese.

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Bake for about 25-30 minutes, until the cheese gets all melty.

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Serve up heaping platefuls and enjoy two Italian classics in one.

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