Sunday, January 31, 2016

Semolina and Ricotta Gnocchi with a Sage Butter Sauce


I have been wanting this cookbook, One Good Dish, for some time, and when I saw it among the offerings at my favorite used bookstore, Pegasus, I'll admit, I actually hemmed and hawed. The last thing I need is a new cookbook, and yet it's one of the first things I want. Reader, I bought it.


And I am delighted I did, for I made these unusual ricotta gnocchi--the method similar to the French pâte à choux, the dough for cream puffs and profiteroles. Sweet business, they are delightful--and delicate.

The first night I made these (and the night from which these photographs originate), we immediately made little quenelles to float in salted, boiling water. I lifted them gently from the liquid, and the drizzled sage butter atop them. More like dumplings than typical gnocchi, these were light, fluffy, and divine. 


The next night, I went for a run (while talking on the phone to my best friend, sometimes the only way I can get time to chat). She and I talked while I ran up hills (she did most of the talking then) and while I coasted down them (my turn to talk). Upon my arrival home, the husband had texted that he would be home late and that I should cook dinner without him. Enter leftover dough, which refrigerates nicely, I might add. Quenelles created again, and I chatted away with my friend. Not paying attention, I dumped the boiling water with the gnocchi into a strainer. The gnocchi fell apart completely. I was left with a semolina, ricotta mash. 


Which, I will admit, was equally as good with a slathering of sage butter if only a fraction as attractive as the night before's creation. The lesson here could be pay more attention to cooking. 

However, the take-home message I am going to glean is that these are darned tasty no matter how you serve them. Sometimes talking to your best friend, who is over 2000 miles away from you, takes precedence.


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Semolina and Ricotta Gnocchi


Yield:
Serves 4-6

Ingredients:  
2 cups water
6 Tbsp butter
1 cup semolina flour
3 large eggs
salt and pepper
Grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp grated lemon zest
1/2 cup fresh ricotta, drained
1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese (plus more for garnish)
2 tsp finely chopped sage
2 Tbsp slivered chives
6 Tbsp butter, melted
12 large sage leaves


Instructions:
1. Put the water in a medium saucepan, add 6 Tbsp solid butter, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-high, add the semolina all at once, and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until it comes together in a ball.  This wall take a minute or two, and then continue to cook for a minute more until it becomes firm.

2.  Transfer the dough to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (alternately, use a hand mixer). Beat the dough at medium speed fora  few minutes, until it has cooled slightly. Add the eggs, one at a time, ensuring you have completely incorporated each egg before proceeding to the next one. The final dough should look smooth and glossy. 

3.  Mix in 1/2 tsp salt, a generous amount of pepper, nutmeg to taste, the lemon zest, ricotta, Pecorino, chopped sage, and chives. Mix on medium speed for a minute or two to combine the ingredients.

4.  To cook the gnocchi, bring a large wide pot of salted water to a rapid simmer. With a teaspoon, scoop up walnut-sized pieces of dough and nudge them into the water with the help of a slotted spoon. Be sure not to overcrowd the gnocchi (no more than 12 at a time). When they rise to the surface, let them simmer for 2 minutes, then gently transfer them to a warm bowl with a slitted spoon. Repeat with the remaining gnocchi.

5.  Warm the meted butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the sale leaves and simmer for 1 minute.

6.  Divide the gnocchi among shallow soup bowls. Drizzle the gnocchi generously with the sage-infused butter. Sprinkle some cheese over each bowl, if desired.

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