Weekly Winner:  Restaurant-Worthy Gnocchi that Anyone (yes, even you) Can Make.

On Friday I made what was quite possibly the most restaurant-quality meal I have ever made.  If I had ordered this Ricotta Gnocchi with Summer Herbs in a restaurant I would have shook my head and said “this is why they’re the professionals. No one can do this at home.”  Not that I haven’t made gnocchi before. I’ve even written about it here.  That time it was a bit of an ordeal. It took serious time, a bit of technique, and quite a mess to get it even reasonably good.  Not this time.

Thanks to Food and Wine and the incredible “hack” that was revealed to make this, seriously anyone can make this dish.  And you should!!  If you can dump stuff in a food processor and squeeze a bag, you can make this.  Literally, it is as easy as boiling water, because that is the only cooking you’ll need to do.

Ricotta Gnocchi with Summer Herbs

Serves 4

Ingredients:

Kosher salt

2 cups fresh ricotta cheese

1 large egg

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest, plus more for sprinkling

Freshly ground pepper

Snipped chives, chopped parsley and small basil leaves, for garnish

Procedure:

  1. Tie a length of thin kitchen twine tightly across a large, two-handled saucepan. Fill the saucepan with water and bring to a simmer. Add a generous pinch of salt.
  2. Meanwhile, in a food processor, pulse the ricotta with the egg and cheese until smooth; scrape down the side of the bowl as necessary. Add the flour and 1 1/2 teaspoons of kosher salt and pulse until just incorporated.
  3. Scrape the gnocchi dough into a large sturdy resealable plastic bag; press the dough into a corner of the bag to remove as much air as possible, then snip off the corner to make a 1/2- to 3/4-inch opening.
  4. Using steady pressure and working over the pot of simmering water, pipe out 1/3 of the gnocchi dough into 3/4-inch pieces, using the twine to cut them into the saucepan. Simmer until the gnocchi rise to the surface, then continue simmering until they’re plumped and just cooked through, about 5 minutes total. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the gnocchi to a lightly oiled rimmed baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough in 2 batches.
  5. Transfer the gnocchi to a platter. Add the 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the lemon zest and gently toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper and toss again. Serve in shallow bowls, garnished with a drizzle of olive oil, grated lemon zest, snipped chives, chopped parsley and small basil leaves. Serve right away.

Weekly Winner:  Cheating Condoned when it’s this Creamy, Cheesy, and Corny.

This isn’t really even “cooking”.  Seriously, if you can move a spoon around in a circular motion in a pan and boil some water, you can make this dish.  If I’m being honest, the only preparation involved is tearing basil at the end.  That’s it.  That is all I “created” when making Gnocchi, Sweet Corn, and Arugula in Garlic-Herb Cream Sauce.  Everything else was, essentially already prepared.  I just put it together.  And I’m super glad I did.

I’m home alone this week and I’ve got a fairly light cooking work load as well, so I didn’t feel like spending a lot of time in the kitchen making dinner just for me.  But I wanted something luxurious and of course, delicious.  That is exactly what this dish is.  It literally came together in under 15 minutes.  It seemed like it took longer for the water to come to a boil than it did to finish the dish once the pot did boil!

So no, I don’t feel the least bit guilty naming this the best thing I made this week when, in essence, I didn’t really make it as much as assembled it. It just goes to show that sometimes simple is better and easy is not bad.  It can be amazing.  This easy, amazing cheat of a meal comes from Better Homes & Gardens.  You have absolutely no excuse not to make this dish.

Gnocchi, Sweet Corn, and Arugula in Garlic-Herb Cream Sauce

Serves 6

Ingredients

1 17.5-oz package of shelf-stable potato gnocchi

2 cups frozen whole kernel corn (I love Trader Joe’s Frozen Roasted Corn)

1 tsp zest and 1 Tbsp juice from one lemon

3/4 cup half-and-half or light cream

1 5.2-oz package semi soft cheese with garlic and fine herbs (Boursin)

1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

3 cups baby arugula

Snipped fresh basil

Preparation:

  1. In a 4-5 quart Dutch oven cook gnocchi according to package directions, adding corn the last 2-3 minutes of cooking. Drain gnocchi and corn reserving 1/2 cup of the water.  Do not rinse gnocchi.  Return gnocchi and corn to pan
  2. For cream sauce: In a medium saucepan, add lemon juice, zest, half-and-half, cheese, and pepper. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently for 10 minutes.  Stir in reserved gnocchi cooking water.
  3. Pour sauce over gnocchi and corn; heat through.  Stir in arugula and sprinkle with basil.

Weekly Winnter: Little Fluffy Pillows of Cheesy Wonderfulness

gnocchi dumplingsYou know you’re doing something right when your husband comments, “this is seriously restaurant-quality good”.  And then it is very, very quiet while we both devour our dinner.  That’s what happened last night.  Now, the funny thing is I have made this recipe before.  And it was good.  So good, in fact, that I was certain I had already declared it a “Weekly Winner”.  I went back and checked.  But I have doubts as to whether it could have possibly been this good.    Very little I have made has been this good.

The recipe itself is mis-named.  It is Chicken and Dumplings.  But dumplings don’t even begin to describe what is in the bowl with the chicken.  Actually they are gnocchi.  Ricotta gnocchi to be exact.  And when said gnocchi is made with hubby’s home-made ricotta, well….. wow!  It is a time-consuming recipe, but it is not difficult.  Just a lot of steps and you do need a good afternoon to do it right.  Your efforts and your patience will be rewarded.  And if you can, try to find a husband or someone to make you home-made ricotta.  You can make it yourself, I suppose, but where’s the fun in that?    The recipe comes from Bon Appetit.  Try it, it will rock your world.

Chicken and “Dumplings”

Ingredients:

Gnocchi

1 pound ricotta

½ cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour plus more

1 large egg, beaten to blend

1 ¼ cups finely grated Parmesan

3/4 teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg

½ tablespoon kosher salt

Chicken and Gravy

10 cups low-salt chicken broth

2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs

¼ cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter

6 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 celery stalks, cut crosswise into 1/4″-thick slices

1 carrot, peeled, thinly sliced

1 parsnip, peeled, cut into 1/4″

1 leek, halved lengthwise, cut crosswise into 1/4″-thick slices

¼ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

¼ cup chopped fresh chives

Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

Shaved Parmesan

Preparation:

Gnocchi –

If using fresh ricotta that has excess liquid, you may need to drain it overnight. Line a fine-mesh strainer with cheesecloth and set it over a medium bowl. Add ricotta; cover with plastic wrap and let drain overnight in refrigerator. If using supermarket ricotta, proceed with recipe; no draining required.

Gently mix ricotta, 1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp. flour, egg, Parmesan, nutmeg, and salt in a large bowl just to blend (do not overwork). Form dough into a ball (it will be sticky); wrap in plastic and chill for at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside. Place dough on a lightly floured work surface. Divide dough into 4 equal portions and cover with a clean kitchen towel. Using your hands, roll 1 portion into a 1/2″-diameter rope; cut crosswise into 1/2″-thick pieces. Lightly dust gnocchi with flour and transfer to pre-pared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining portions of dough. Cover gnocchi with a kitchen towel and chill until ready to cook.

Chicken and Gravy-

Bring broth to a boil in a large saucepan. Add chicken; reduce heat to low, cover, and gently simmer until chicken is tender and cooked through, 20–30 minutes. Remove chicken; let cool slightly and shred into bite-size pieces. Bring broth to a boil and cook until reduced to 8 cups, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt butter in a small heavy saucepan over low heat. Whisk in flour until smooth and cook, whisking constantly, until roux is pale beige in color, about 15 minutes (do not brown).

Scrape roux into simmering broth; whisk until thickened and broth coats the back of a spoon. Reduce heat to low and add vegetables. Cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add shredded chicken and herbs. Season with salt and pepper.

Cook gnocchi in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until gnocchi float to the surface, about 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer gnocchi to bowls, dividing equally. Ladle chicken and vegetables with gravy over. Season with pepper and top with Parmesan.