|Ricotta Gnocci with Cherry Tomato and Olive Sauce|
This dish was inspired by Michael Smith, a Canadian chef, who made a roasted tomato sauce to accompany his version of these pillowy, tender morsels. Roasting our tomatoes would be perfect for the winter when tomatoes are less than perfect but when our gardens and farmers markets are laden with sun-ripened tomatoes of every shape, size and sweet perfection it seemed like sacrilege to tamper with them too much. Therefore I made a very quick tomato sauce using a kaleidoscope of colour and flavour from our local farmers market.
Presto Pasta Nights the brainchild of the illustrious Ruth of Once Upon a Feast. This is one of the longest ongoing parties in the blogosphere since it has been in the forefront for over 3 years now. Now that's a party!!!This week the party is being hosted by expat Katie of Thyme for Cooking whom I have been following for almost as many years from her kitchen in France. Check out her adventures with mon mari and their renovations.
**Ricotta Gnocchi with Cherry Tomato and Olive Sauce**
2 lbs. baking potatoes (about 6)
1 cup fresh, good quality ricotta cheese
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese (plus more for topping)
2-3 cups flour, plus more for dusting
Peel and quarter the potatoes, putting them in a medium stock pot with enough water to cover the potatoes with one inch of water. Add a handful of coarse salt. Put the potatoes to boil until they are tender when pierced with a fork, but not mushy. Drain the potatoes.
Put the potatoes through a food mill or potato ricer. (Or mash very finely with a fork.) In a large bowl, combine the potatoes, eggs, Parmesan and ricotta, and mix well using your hands or a fork until consistent dough is formed. Be careful not to over mix.
Add the flour a half cup at a time, mixing each time by hand until there is a soft, pliable dough. The dough should not be sticky, and it should not be hard. If it’s too sticky or soft, the gnocchi will be mushy, but if there’s too much flour, the gnocchi will be chewy and tough. (This is the only challenging part!)
Knead the dough a few times until uniform, adding some more flour if needed, and divide the dough in half.
Flour a work area, and roll the dough out into a long thin roll about 3/4 inch thick. Cut these tubes of dough into sections about 1 inch long. Meanwhile, bring a stock pot of water to a boil.
There are a variety of ways to ‘mark’ the gnocchi-all just a style choice, since at this point, they are more or less done. Here are some suggestions: Mark an indentation in the center of each gnocchi with your index finger; or roll over the side of a cheese grater to make patterned indentations; or roll over the backside of a fork, or roll over the center of a wooden gnocchi tool.
Note: for more dense gnocchi, roll lightly, just enough to mark the dough. For light fluffy gnocchi, roll on a gnocchi tool (available in any Argentinean grocery) and press firmly so that the gnocchi rolls around the tip of your thumb and resembles a little ear. Tip: If using the gnocchi tool, flour the ridges periodically so that the dough doesn’t stick as it’s being pushed into the grooves.
At this point, the gnocchi can be frozen laid out on a baking sheet lined with wax paper. After they are frozen, they can be stored in a freezer bag. Frozen gnocchi are just put into the boiling water like the unfrozen ones.
To make the gnocchi, either fresh or frozen, throw the gnocchi one at a time into the boiling water. (If you throw them in by the handful, you will get one big glob of gnocchi.)They are cooked when they rise to the top. (Less than 5 minutes) Collect with a slotted spoon and transfer to a plate. Serve with the sauce of your choice.
NOTE: I divided the gnocchi dough in half and added pesto to one half and parsley to the other.
**Cherry Tomato and Olive Pasta Sauce**
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 pints cherry tomatoes, de-stemmed
4 onions, peeled and chopped
1 head garlic, peeled and sliced
1 cup Kalamata black olives, pitted and halved
1 cup green olives, pitted and sliced
1 tablespoon dried thyme
Sprinkled sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
In large saute pan with 2 tablespoons olive oil add onions, garlic, olives, thyme, salt and pepper and saute until tomatoes crack and release their juices, approximately 5 minutes. The sauce is done when it begins to brown here and there, the tomatoes shrink and it smells amazing.
Toss with your favourite pasta or as here with gnocchi!
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