It's too hot for gnocchi. Frankly, it's too hot to do much of anything besides sitting very still, eating an ice cream cone naked...
Gnocchi is the theme for this edition of Hay Hay It's Donna Day, hosted by Cafe Lynnylu. I must admit I've been remiss in participating in the last few. Maybe I wasn't inspired by the theme...or maybe I just didn't have time to get inspired. When I heard about the gnocchi, I felt that stir to throw my hat in the ring.
The challenges for me with the theme of gnocchi are:
1) They are beige little unphotogenic lumps unless you use a colorful ingredient that might yield you, oh say, orange little unphotogenic lumps.
2) They are a legendary pain in the hiney.
3) Did I mention it's hot?
How in the world was I going to lighten up gnocchi so I wouldn't feel like I ate a mass of raw pasta dough...sitting around sweating and rubbing my stomach? I found two recipes on-line that helped me combine two of my favorite worlds: light-ish ricotta and goat cheese gnocchi and amazing summertime heirloom tomatoes. With the addition of some basil in the gnocchi and extra shavings of goat cheese on top, this quickly took on a wonderful Caprese-esque quality.
I have made gnocchi several times for work...but the recipes I've used in the past have seemed so labor intensive. This recipe, found on StarChefs.com, couldn't have been easier. I enlisted some help from my friend and usual Hay Hay It's Donna Hay suspect Tony Clark to document the gnocchi-making process. Some helpful hints that I found while making my gnocchi:
- Have your ricotta and goat cheese at room temperature. There is a lot of stirring involved in making your gnocchi dough so having the ingredients at room temp helps that process along.
- Use flour liberally. So you make a mess. Big deal. You are in the kitchen, right?
- Eyeball the size of the gnocchi when you cut them carefully. If you cut the pieces too big, you'll end up with The Gnocchi That Ate Atlanta (or whatever city you live in). They expand when you boil them, so use caution.
For the salad portion of the program, I was inspired by this recipe on NapaStyle by Michael Chiarello. I used yellow and orange heirloom tomatoes for the carpaccio base of the salad. Next, I made a simple vinaigrette which I tossed the heirloom tomatoes and the salad greens in. Don't fret about making the tomatoes uniform - leave some whole and cut them different sizes. With the addition of the warm gnocchi and some extra shavings of cheese on top - I used hard goat cheese rather than ricotta salata - this became a wonderful, simple, and light entree salad.
Warm Basil and Goat Cheese Gnocchi with Tomato Carpaccio and Heirloom Tomato Salad - serves 4
- 1 cup fresh ricotta cheese
- ½ cup goat cheese
- 1 egg
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- ¾ cup flour
- chopped basil, to taste (optional)
For The Gnocchi:
- Combine cheeses, egg, basil (if adding), salt and pepper in bowl. Add flour gradually, mixing by hand, until incorporated. Dough should be a bit sticky. Dust work surface with more flour and in small amounts, roll into long ropes, about ½ - inch in diameter. Cut into 1- inch lengths. Reserve on floured sheet tray. Bring 4 quarts salted water to boil. Lower heat. Add gnocchi. Gnocchi are cooked when floating. Scoop out of water with slotted spoon.
For the salad:
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- Grey salt (or sea salt) and fresh ground black pepper
- 3-4 pounds vine-ripened tomatoes, preferably a colorful mixture and various sizes
- 4 handfuls washed & dried salad greens
- Goat Cheese & Basil Gnocchi from above
- 1/2 ounce ricotta salata or Parmesan cheese or any other hard cheese of your choice
- In a medium or large bowl, whisk together the EVOO, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Taste for balance and adjust to your liking. Using a mandoline or sharp chef's knife, slice the tomatoes as thinly as possible and arrange on the plate. Season with salt and pepper. Toss the smaller heirloom tomatoes and the salad greens in the vinaigrette and top the carpaccio with salad mixture.
- Bring water to a boil and cook gnocchi per the recipe. With a slotted spoon, remove gnocchi from water and drain well. Toss gnocchi in remaining vinaigrette and scatter on salad. Using a vegetable peeler, shave thin shavings of cheese over the salad. Serve immediately.
Thanks to my photo buddy and dining companion Tony Clark for the lovely photos and the good company.