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Gnocci Gratin…the two best things in the world in one dish!

November 18, 2011

Yes, yes my friends, Gnocci and Gratin together…bliss…as a matter of fact, I’m munching on the leftovers now, by “munching” I mean devouring. Above is a photo of the giant slabs of goat cheese for the salads…a salad isn’t worth eating unless the greens are heavily outweighed by goaty goodness.

The menu tonight was entitled A Tuscan Harvest Dinner, it was mostly vegetarian except for the pancetta we added because, well, it’s delicious.

Wild Mushroom Soup with Toasted Crostini

Roasted Butternut Squash Polenta with Fried Sage

Greens with Almonds and Goat Cheese

Gnocci Gratin with Pine Nuts and Gorgonzola

Cantucci

I was responsible for the Wild Mushroom soup and it was insanely simple, it took me right back to Firenze…ahhh…I wen’t in October and made a point to only eat in tiny places in back alleys (That’s where the good stuff hides). One night I ordered a sampler of the “house soups” as my dinner. Everything I ate there was like the feeling of wearing a chunky knit sweater, curling up in a window seat to watch the rain, and read a good book. They were “stick to your ribs” kind of soups laden with beans and vegetables and insanely flavorful broth. I think if this Mushroom soup were chunkier I would feel inclined to ask for a jug of the house wine and speak some botched Italian. The recipe indicates to sautee Mushrooms and garlic in butter until soft, cover with stock and a bit of cream, let it simmer for a bit, then add toasted bread and blend. We topped it with warm cream frothed up, the gills from the portabellas we used, and coarse chopped dill. It was beautiful, but I think I would have liked some chunks of mushroom in the soup.

Next we served the salad, which was amazing…it incorporated bitter greens like endive and arugula with some radicchio and is tossed in a hot vinaigrette to wilt them before put onto a plate with toasted almonds and a generous hunk of goat cheese(which I feel should have it’s own food group).

And oh, the gnocci…oh, oh, oh the gnocci. I’m sorry…

Anyway, well…if you haven’t made gnocci, you should! It’s involved, but not difficult or expensive. I make it regularly. There’s an intimacy you cultivate between you and your food when there’s so much     labor involved. Anyone that bakes bread from scratch, kneads their dim sum to the point of arthritis, or swirls their finger between the eggs in the flour well while making pasta from scratch understands. You become mother to those tiny bits of carbohydrate between your finger, you love them, forgive their asymmetry, flour and rub them, rise them and roll them, and hold hope in their future as a device for pleasure in the mouths of your family and friends. Your hands gain a rhythm as you gently roll them along the fork tines creating divots and designs all your own. And the flavor we decided to coat these little beauties with was a dolce gorgolzola (dolce means sweet) melted with cream over sauteed pancetta and shallots, then baked with parmesan and pine nuts sprinkled on top. Heaven.

The polenta was pretty straightforward and the little sage crispy’s made me happy. My name in culinary school was “Crispy” after all.

And Cantucci, which is basically baby biscotti. We made them with almonds and Vin Santo (which we handed out shots of while dessert was being consumed). We served them over our favorite accouterments,panna cotta gelado. It’s our favorite for good reason…try it sometime.

Well, my gnocci is all eaten up by now so I suppose I’ll just finish this fabulous bottle of Cab and go to bed a happy, happy girl.

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From → The Good Stuff

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