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Sweet Potato Gnocchi - Meatballs&MilkshakesThis may be the last pasta post for a little while, as I’m going to try to be a little healthier for as long as I can stand it. Sweet potatoes are a favorite around the apartment, and they make light and fluffy gnocchi with more depth of flavor than regular gnocchi. Combine them with some crisp sage and pecorino, and they become truly delicious little clouds.

Sweet Potato Gnocchi

1 1/2 pound sweet potato (1 large sweet potato), pricked with a fork

8 ounce container of fresh ricotta, preferably local

3 ounces grated parmesan

2 teaspoons salt

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

2 cups flour

Roast the sweet potato in a 400 degree oven for 30-40 minutes or microwave on high for 4 minutes a side until soft. Let cool. Meanwhile, let the ricotta drain in a sieve or coffee filter for two hours to remove some of the extra liquid.

Scrape the flesh from the potato skin and mash, it should be about 2 cups. Add the ricotta and combine. Add the salt, brown sugar, nutmeg, and half the flour. Combine well. Add the rest of the flour in parts until the dough becomes a ball. You may not need it all.

Dump it onto a board and form a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour up to a couple days.

Cut pieces off the ball and roll into ropes about a half inch thick with plenty of extra flour. Slice into inch long pieces. They can be kept in a single layer and frozen, store in some flour.

Sweet Potato Gnocchi - Meatballs&Milkshakes

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Sage and Pecorino

2 cups gnocchi, made as above (1 cup per person)

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

3 garlic cloves

6-8 sage leaves

1/2 cup grated parmesan

Cook the gnocchi in heavily salted water for 2-3 minutes, until they aggressively float. Meanwhile, Saute the garlic in the olive oil on medium heat until it starts to brown. Remove the garlic and add the sage. Be careful, because they will pop a little at first due to the water content. Add the gnocchi along with a little pasta water and swirl to combine. Allow to cook for a minute together, and then off the heat, add the parmesan. Serve with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil over the top.

Sweet Potato Gnocchi - Meatballs&Milkshakes

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Puttanesca is a classic pantry pasta sauce, using olives and anchovies along with canned tomatoes. It makes sense that that’s the basis of one of the stories about how it got it’s name. Either way, as we are starting to clean out the pantry in preparation for moving and we didn’t have a lot of fresh ingredients in the fridge, it seemed like a perfect sauce for the leftover gnocchi in the freezer. Be careful of the saltiness of the anchovies and olives, no need to add any more salt to the sauce.

Gnocchi Puttanesca

2 cups gnocchi

1/2 can San Marzano tomatoes

1/2 onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

3 anchovies

1/2 cup Gaeta olives, pitted and chopped

1/2 cup red or white wine

2 teaspoons dried oregano

Cook the gnocchi in salted water for a few minutes, until they float. Meanwhile, saute the onion and garlic with the anchovies in a little olive oil for a minute, until softened. Add the olives and oregano and stir together. Add the tomatoes and wine, and allow to cook together for a few minutes. Add the cooked gnocchi and stir together. Serve with some grated parmesan or pecorino over the top.

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I am always a fan of pasta for a quick weeknight dinner, and so it’s not surprising that I already have several blog posts to choose from. I always love pesto and I have a recipe here, but I also loved this avocado pesto because it was a rich, creamy, and different version of the usual pesto genovese.

As you may have guessed, I LOVE meatballs. I’m pretty sure spaghetti and meatballs is one of my top 5 all-time favorite meals. In fact, just talking about it now makes me want it this weekend. These meatballs are light and flavorful, and the sauce gets extra depth from braising the meatballs in it. I think you’ll love it as much as I do.

This Spicy Pasta with Crab is a new favorite, and of course it’s a Mario Batali recipe. It’s so quick and easy and I just love crab in any form. Use good egg noodles like a tajarin or tagliatelle and it’s even better. You could even use fresh pasta for this one, it would be a great complement to the crab.

This one definitely makes my top 5 meals as well. I love a delicious bolognese, and these fresh spinach linguine were so wonderful with the meaty sauce. The slow cooked meat is so flavorful and it absorbs into the pasta, creating a heavenly dish that transports me to Italy. It’s a lot harder to get me to eat veggies when I could just have seconds of this…

And then there are gnocchi. I love these little pillows of pasta, especially when they are in pesto. They’re also great in other sauces, but they have a way of soaking up pesto that no other pasta does. I keep some in the freezer for a quick meal on a night when I don’t want to cook, and they work beautifully from the freezer directly to boiling water.

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It was a great first year for my latest project, Meatballs and Milkshakes. I had a chance to make both namesakes for my blog, spaghetti and meatballs and affogato milkshakes.

My recipe for shaved asparagus salad won on Food52 and I got all sorts of prizes. (And my recipe will be in print in October 2012!)

I had a great guest blog from Gareth with some music to go along with it, a favorite song around the apartment which reminds me that I still have not blogged about the trip to Ravello and Positano. Well, at least I’ve still got things to do in 2012.

There were a lot of favorites that came out of the kitchen this year, including prosciutto and goat cheese stuffed dates, scallop crudo, burrata and tomato crostini, seared scallops with spinach and pine nuts, chicken with porcini mushrooms, veal saltimbocca, and beef stew.

Of course, I can’t forget all the great pasta– linguine with bacon, peas and mint, pappardelle with duck ragurisotto with spinach, lemon and bay scallops, gorgonzola and mushroom tajarin, linguine carbonara, pesto, spaghetti with cherry tomatoes, gnocchi, and carrot and butternut squash lasagna.

I learned that I loved burrata, Di Palo, and Eataly, and surprisingly, I don’t actually hate all ricotta. I made a surprising amount of pasta by hand and got a ricer for gnocchi.

It wasn’t all Italian all the time, however. There were a lot of cookies, including nutella chocolate chip, chewy chocolate chip, double chocolate, chocolate chip hazelnut, jam thumbprints, and spice cookies.

We celebrated Gareth’s birthday with a delicious chocolate layer cake. We had peach and raspberry crisps and crostatas. I brought zucchini bread on vacation and we had a beautiful and delicious berry pie.

The fall meant apple picking and with it, the bounty of apple-inspired recipes such as apple oat muffins, pork chops with apple chutney, apple pie, butternut squash soup, and apple butter.

Thanksgiving was quickly followed by Christmas and then the whirlwind into New Years.

The Feast of the Seven Fishes was a great success, and my favorites were the marinated sardines, shrimp bisque, and baccala alla vicentina. The chocolate pudding will also be made regularly.

A lot of great friends came over for some really delicious meals and I’m looking forward to more in 2012. Up on the docket are braciole, lasagna, and maybe some healthy dinners like salmon and brown rice in the next couple of weeks….have to balance out the pasta somehow…

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Gnocchi


I’ve blogged about using the gnocchi from my last freezer batch and I promised to put up the recipe for it later, so….that time is now. I’ve actually had a lot of trouble with this recipe, because it seems to always be really wet and I need to add more flour. So here’s my adjusted recipe, if you can use less flour because your potatoes are drier, that’s even better. I’ve done them here with pesto, you can check out my pesto recipe here. You want to make sure to use starchy potatoes like russets, rather than waxy potatoes like Yukon gold or red potatoes.

Gnocchi

1.5 pounds russet potatoes, boiled for 35-45 minutes or just until a knife goes in and out easily

2 cups flour

1 egg

1 teaspoon salt

Put the potatoes through a ricer while they are still hot and then let the potato cool completely. You can skin them, but I just put them through the ricer and the skin gets stuck on the inside.

Once the potato has cooled, sprinkle the flour over and make a well in the center. Put the egg and salt in the well and start to bring together with a fork.

Bring together and start to knead the dough until it forms a ball. Continue kneading for a couple minutes. Start to roll out pieces of the dough in ropes and cut into 1 inch pieces. Roll the pieces over the tines of a fork to create ridges.

Put them onto a floured cookie sheet until you are ready to cook the whole batch. You shouldn’t let them sit around too long though, because they start to get mushy the longer they sit out. I generally put the leftovers into plastic containers with layers of parchment paper between them to keep them from sticking.

Cook them in salted water like you would pasta. I try to make sure I don’t put too many in at a time because you want to make sure the water continues to boil and doesn’t cool down. If the water stops boiling, they may get mushy. Cook for about 2 minutes, until they float aggressively. Strain and put into a saute pan with whatever sauce you are using for the last minute.

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As I mentioned earlier in the week, the duck ragu leftovers were even better with some homemade gnocchi from the freezer….next time I make gnocchi, I’ll post the full recipe for it. For the leftovers, just cook the gnocchi and add them to a pan with the leftover ragu. Toss and cook for another minute together and then off the heat, add some parmigiano and fresh olive oil and plate. The original post for the ragu was here.

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