Tuesday, November 16, 2010

OBD 15- Gnocchi

Not chili, I know, but I wasn't in the mood to wait 6 or 8 hours, so gnocchi it was.

I made this back at the beginning of the "experiment" with a creamy sauce made from almonds. No almonds this time, so it was maybe not as tasty, but still quite edible.

Now, you don't have to make gnocchi by hand. You can buy it frozen at some grocery stores, or they have dry plastic packages in the pasta aisle at some stores. Publix, I think, has their own house brand. If you don't do eggs, though, check the ingredients, because most store bought varieties *do* have egg in them. Gia Russa gnocchi, I think doesn't have egg, but you'll need to check the ingredients yourself to make sure. I know in NZ at the Countdown they had a pumpkin (winter squash, not pie) flavored gnocchi, but flavors are a bit more limited at most US stores.

Keep in mind that you can use just about any solid veggie for these. I bet beets would look amazing.

1lb sweet potato
1/2 to 2 cups flour

nuke the sweet potato until it's cooked all the way through. Cut it (them) in half and let the flesh dry out a bit. Scoop the insides into a bowl and smoosh with a fork, mixing to let more steam escape. You want it both mostly dry and cool enough to touch. Add the first bit of flour. If you've got a dry enough starting veggie, it might look like that 1/2 cup of flour is never going to mix in. Just keep working at it with a fork until it looks/ feels like it'd be easier to kneed. Work the dough, adding flour as necessary, until it's solid but not dry. You want it to be about as solid as colder than room temp play-dough. When you get it to that point (with however much flour it takes, if it was a wet veggie it can take a lot of flour which may leave the dough tasting not-as-veggieful) roll the dough into a big log. Cut it in half, then probably in half again. You want enough to make a rope no longer than your cutting board and about 1cm/.5in in diameter. To speed up the rolling process I like to squish the dough into a rope, kind like you would squeeze water out of long hair. Don't go too fast, or you can lose the shape totally, and try to keep it round-ish. When it's as stretched as you can get it that way, go ahead and roll it the rest of the way on a board with your hands. Again, think kids and clay.

If you have kids, this is a good part for them to do- they know all about rolling snake shapes, and actually *enjoy* it.

Make sure the board is lightly floured first, though. Once you have your snake (or snakes) cut them into .5 to 1 inch sections, toss them with a bit more flour to keep them from sticking together, and spread them on a cookie sheet. Freeze the whole sheet. 10 minutes is long enough to firm them up, 20 minutes and you can bag them.

Cook them in heavily salted boiling water about 3-5 minutes (if they're fresh but firm), or 10-15 minutes if they're fully frozen. Turn the burner down when they rise to the top of the pot. They should plump (sometimes a lot) while they're cooking. Drain them and top with your favorite sauce or mix.

I learned last night, BTW, that tomato sauce and sweet potato gnocchi really don't go together. But maybe with a strongly flavored cream sauce, or something winter spiced? Who knows.

If you try this with something like beets or broccoli, or carrots, or something, let me know how it turns out. I want to do the beet version, but haven't got any right now. Oh well....

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