*Recipe follows story
The herbal lovers may disagree - but I’ll take a big fat bowl of gnocchi over a dutchie any day.
I love gnocchi and so do my hips.
I love gnocchi and so do my friends.
Read the tale of the potato based pasta below…
When I was in Barcelona I met two of the loveliest humans.
I mean so lovely.
So lovely and so smart and so easy to talk to.
Lily and Owen were a fine couple, hailing from New Zealand.
We met in the Parallel Metro station in Barcelona.
We remained attached for the day, realizing how freeing it was - for a few hours - to speak English and not our muddled Spanish.
While on a day trip, I learned Lily and Owen were quite the travelers and quite the foodies.
We bonded, over our mutual love to cook, eat and feed people.
Food brings everyone together.
And, so, Lily and Owen, after our amazing walks about Montjuic and La Rambla, copious email exchanges, your blog comments and your constant encouragement …
This one’s for you…
I spent Sunday conquering the gnocchi.
I feel bad, truly, madly, deeply, for those who go through life depriving themselves carbohydrates.
Crobin (that’s my buddy who hasn’t had bread or pasta or a nothin’ since June 17th).
Lily and Owen wrote to me months ago because they made gnocchi, but they were unhappy with how dense their pasta turned out. They asked that I make my own gnocchi and let them know the outcome. However, Lily and Owen made a pumpkin gnocchi. Pumpkin isn’t in season for a few months, so I went classic. I went with the potato. I researched a few recipes, from Mario Batali, to Michael Chiarello. I turned to The Silver Spoon and cross referenced that recipe with one from Chef Shea Gallante (a find through my daily emails from Tasting Table). The Silver Spoon and Chef Gallante’s seemed to me most similar in method, proportions (each recipe was pretty equal in ratio of potato to flour and egg).
The more I read, the more I had mounting insecurities about my cooking performance.
Fuck the internet and the downward spirals it causes.
And while I’ve done my fair share of watching Aunt Jo and Zia Gina make gnocchi- through the years - I never took the plunge.
I’ve also done my fair share of research.
I’ve been diligent with my eating.
I’ve eaten many a gnocchi in the name of research.
I’ve boiled Cassinelli’s, Pastosa’s and Landi’s at home.
I’ve had standout gnocchi for dinner at Torrisi, Apizz, Quattro Gatti.
I’ve been afraid to make it on my own.
After waking on Sunday to a broken toilet bowl and then spending the greater portion of the early afternoon returning my snazzy new 9 cup Cuisinart Food Processor (faulty motor) to Bed Bath & Beyond - I was ready to set a new tone for the day.
I channeled Aunt Jo and Zia Gina.
I took off my bra.
I put on my apron.
I donned a headband.
I’m pretty sure they wore bras while they cooked, but whatever.
I hate bras.
I got comfortable.
I was ready to make gnocchi.
I was ready to share my non-expert cooking notes with Lily & Owen.
I called Nan and Su because I thought if I fell face first in my pasta bowl, they would understand this was a first time try. They joined me for dinner. Promptly, at 7:10 pm, I began to boil my day’s worth of work.
Nancy’s nephew Matt even joined us.
And there’s no honest opinion like that of a 17 year old male.
He griped and grumbled: I hate gnocchi, I don’t want anything.
Nancy insisted that I force him.
I took out a fork and gave him one - in red sauce.
This is good.
I gave him another, in pesto …
What is this? It’s green. No.
Please, I said.
Wait, this is good.
I offered to make him a bowl with a taste of each.
Matt protested because he never eats home cooked food.
Since he’s been in NY for the past 3 weeks, he’s only eaten take out.
Matt lives with his grandma, Sandy, an AMAZING cook - and he never eats at home.
What is it with some kids?
I spent the greater portion of my life sneaking seconds of my mom and grandmas food.
So, although my Sunday gnocchi making gave me bits of anxiety - and my toilet bowl was never fixed - I went to sleep proud.
Proud that a 17 year old boy, who never eats anything, actually cleaned his plate (of my food) last night.
Proud that I put my fears aside and made gnocchi for the first time.
Lily & Owen,
The recipe included below makes an amazing gnocchi. I must’ve asked my friends 5 times each, during dinner and then after, if they liked their meal.
I was met with wants for seconds.
And if you don’t trust my friends, you can trust a young boy who would’ve told me it was shit if he didn’t like it. But Matt loved his nom noms.
I, myself, am even thinking about the leftovers right now.
I’m thinking about licking my bowl, all over again.
My mind is dreaming of billowy pasta cushions and my belly feels like a billowy cushion and I’m so happy about it.
I’m thankful that I made just enough to eek out one more tiny bowl of leftovers for myself tonight.
I’m hoping you’re both well and nomming away in New Zealand.
Make gnocchi soon, a heavy pasta is perfect for winter - and I know it’s chilly in NZ now.
Or, if you don’t have fresh tomatoes, go canned.
2 cans of San Marzanos (passed through a mill or pureed in the food processor - yes, seeds and all), 5 cloves of garlic, 1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil, salt and 6-8 fresh basil leaves will get you a pretty amazing batch of quick sauce. I like to let this cook longer than the fresh tomatoes, as the longer you cook, the sweeter and less acidic. Cook on a low flame for 2-3 hours and you’ll have a stellar sauce on your hands. It also make a great sauce to freeze and use later on as a base for puttanesca (or whatever it is you like to sauce up).