Saturday, March 26, 2011

Tomato Gnocchi in Broccoli Pesto Sauce

Comfort food! These soft little tomato dumplings, swimming in pesto cream sauce, certainly fit into my definition of comfort food. My family truly enjoyed this recipe. Bonus: I got a serving of veggies into them without a single complaint!

Gnocchi are pretty simple to make, you just start by boiling a pound of peeled and quartered Russet potatoes. Once the potatoes are cooked, drain them. Then over a warm burner or very low heat, stir potatoes for 1-2 minutes or until steam is evaporated. Next, press them through a potato ricer or strainer into a small bowl and cool slightly.

Now, make a well in the center of those mashed (or riced) potatoes and add in an egg, tomato paste, and salt. Then sprinkle flour over the whole mess and stir until combined.

Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead it 10-12 times to form a soft dough. You don't want to over-knead this or add too much more flour. The first time I made gnocchi, I went way overboard with the flour and the kneading. I treated the dough like homemade pasta, not tender potato dumplings. Consequently, those first gnocchi were awfully chewy.

Shoot for a soft, slightly sticky dough. Just use enough flour on your work surface and hands to keep the dough from sticking.

Divide the dough into 4 equal portions.

Then roll them each out into a long rope, about 1/2" inch in thickness.

Cut the rope into 3/4 inch pieces.

And roll them on the back of a floured fork to give them those signature gnocchi grooves. The grooves come in handy for holding more sauce in each wonderful bite!

Because I make my gnocchi on the soft side, I don't pile them on top of each other before cooking because they tend to lose their shape and stick together.

To cook the gnocchi, simply drop them into boiling water (in batches). When they float to the top, they're done!

Drain. I like to use a hand held colander to remove them from the water.

Now for the sauce. I used 1 cup of broccoli pesto, leftover from the Broccoli Pesto Pizza that I posted a couple of weeks ago. Recipe found HERE. Then I mixed in a cup of prepared Alfredo sauce and heated it through. Sure, the pesto would have been fine on it's own and yes, I added more fat AND calories with the addition of the Alfredo sauce. No regrets. It was delicious!

To finish, toss the gnocchi with the sauce and top with fresh basil or parsley and enjoy!

Tomato Gnocchi from Light & Tasty Magazine February/March 2007

1 pound russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
3 quarts water
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 egg
3 tablespoons tomato paste
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided

•Place potatoes in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until tender.Drain.

•Over warm burner or very low heat, stir potatoes for 1-2 minutes or until steam is evaporated. Press through a potato ricer or strainer into a small bowl; cool slightly. In a Dutch oven, bring water to a boil.

•Using a fork, make a well in the potatoes. Sprinkle flour over potatoes and into well. Whisk the egg, tomato paste and 1/2 teaspoon salt; pour into well. Stir until blended. Knead 10-12 times, forming
a soft dough.

•Divide dough into four portions. On a floured surface, roll portions into 1/2-in.-thick ropes; cut into 3/4-in. pieces. Press and roll each piece with a lightly floured fork. Cook gnocchi in boiling water in batches for 30-60 seconds or until they float. Remove with a strainer and keep warm.

For the sauce:

Mix together 1 cup broccoli pesto (recipe found HERE) with 1 cup prepared Alfredo sauce. Toss cooked gnocchi with sauce until coated. Top with fresh basil or parsley.

Note: Any pesto would work well with this recipe.

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