Buongiorno! I have been loving cooking out of the garden this summer, even more so than usual. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that I CAN enjoy cooking as the garden has been coming on. Usually I would be back in school, so all of the vegetables coming on would be stressing me out because I wouldn't have time to use them all. I've also started to become a lot more interested in cooking with fresh, in-season ingredients since we started using doTERRA oils and learning about trying to live a more natural life. Not that I'm perfect at doing this. I still haven't kicked my Mountain Dew habit.
I whipped this recipe up this weekend. I was inspired by several things when coming up with the idea for this in my head. We have a "potato guy" that comes down from Michigan and sells 50lb. bags of potatoes for $11 out of the back of a semi-truck. I recently purchased a bag and split it with my mom and a friend, but that still left me with a lot of potatoes, so when I was doing my meal planning this past week, I tried to think of what to make using the potatoes and produce from the garden. That's when I remembered an episode of Rick Steves' Europe that I saw several weeks ago on PBS. In the episode, Steves visited the Cinque Terre, which are five tiny port towns on Italy's Riviera. At his stop in Vernazza, he visits a restaurant where he has gnocchi con pesto. Pesto originated in the Liguria region of Italy where Vernazza is located.
Pesto is incredibly simple to make. And thanks to my grandma, who has some secret on how to grow giant basil plants and has allowed me to harvest from her plants, I've been able to make a lot of pesto this summer and even have some of it frozen to use this winter. It is simply basil, garlic, salt, pine nuts, olive oil and Parmesan cheese. (I don't add Parmesan to my pesto in the recipe below and only add it if I'm serving the pesto as the sauce and not an ingredient in another dish. If you want to make pesto to serve as your sauce, simply stir in a 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan to the recipe below right before serving.) To be truly authentic, you would combine these ingredients in a marble mortar with a pestle, but I make mine in a food processor.
As a friend of mine said, "Homemade gnocchi is a labor of love." Gnocchi isn't hard to make, but it does take some time. I made the pesto a few days before we made this dish to use with another recipe so I saved a bit of time and clean up there. Pesto can be stored in the fridge for about a week or frozen to use later. I freeze mine in ice cube trays so that I can pull out even small amounts to use at a later time.
I hope you enjoy this dish as much as we did. Ciao!
Total Time: 1 hour (I would give myself an extra half hour if you've never made gnocchi before)
- Pesto (Recipe adapted from Everyday Italian by Giada De Laurentiis)
- 2 cups of fresh basil (packed)
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 1 clove garlic
- 1/2 tsp coarse salt
- 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Gnocchi (Recipe adapted from Everyday Pasta by Giada De Laurentiis)
- 2 baking potatoes about 12oz. each
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 3/4 cup flour
- 1 Tomato
- 1 cup cream
- 1/3 cup shredded Parmesan
- To make your pesto, first you want to toast your pine nuts. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Spread your pine nuts out on a baking sheet and bake for 3 to 5 minutes. It won't take long and you don't want to burn them. Store any extra pine nuts from the package you have in the freezer to prevent them from turning rancid.
- Put your basil, pine nuts, salt, and garlic in your food processor and puree. Once you have pureed the ingredients together, add the olive oil a little at a time. You want a fairly smooth, thick consistency. Set the pesto aside.
- To make your gnocchi, "bake" the potatoes in the microwave for about 12 minutes. Turn the potatoes at the half-way point.
- Scoop the insides of the potato into a large bowl. Mash the potatoes with a fork until there are NO chunks. Add the egg, salt, and pepper and mix until combined. Sift the flour into the potato mixture, making sure to stir occasionally as you are adding it. (NOTE: You may need more flour depending on the size of your potatoes. You DO NOT want your dough to be sticky.)
- Taking spoonfuls out at a time, roll the dough into a rope about a 1/2 inch in diameter. Then cut the rope into 1 inch long pieces. Set the pieces aside. Keep doing this until all of the dough has been rolled and cut.
- To cook the gnocchi, bring a medium-sized saucepan of water to a boil. Working in small batches, add the gnocchi to the water. Once the gnocchi starts to float, it is done. Use a slotted spoon to remove it and place it your serving bowl.
- While you are waiting on the water to boil for the gnocchi, dice your tomato and then start the cream sauce.
- To make the cream sauce, add 1/2 cup of pesto (freeze the rest or use within a week) and 1 cup of heavy cream to a small saucepan. Heat on on low. You want the sauce to start to bubble a bit. Right before serving, add the Parmesan cheese. Stir and continue to cook until all of the cheese has melted.
- With your gnocchi in the serving dish(es), add the pesto cream sauce and top with fresh tomatoes.
- Buon appetito!
NOTE: This was the only dish we served this particular night, but I think it would pair great with grilled chicken breast.