Monday, December 12, 2011

Gnocchi Baked with Spinach in Goat Cheese-Tomato Cream Sauce

The gnocchi can be made several hours ahead of time and refrigerated until you're ready to cook them and assemble the dish.


Total Time: about 1 hour, 20 minutes
Makes 4-6 servings

Ingredients:

For gnocchi:
  • 1 1/2 lbs russet potatoes (about 2 large), peeled and cut into small cubes
  • 1 C all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
For sauce:
Procedure:
Put the peeled and cut potatoes into a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes are very tender. Drain, and mash the potatoes until very smooth or push them through a potato ricer. Set aside to cool.

While you're waiting for the potatoes to cool, warm the tomato sauce in a saucepan. Add the goat cheese and cream, and keep on low while you cook the gnocchi and spinach. Rinse the pot you used for the potatoes and bring 4 quarts of water to boil for the gnocchi and spinach.

When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, add the salt and about 3/4 of the flour to the mashed potatoes and stir or knead with your hands to combine. If the dough is still sticky or falls apart easily, add few more tablespoons of flour. You only need enough flour to be able to roll the dough easily. Divide the dough in half and roll into ropes 1-inch thick. Cut the ropes into 3/4-inch pieces. Roll each gnocchi over the tines of the back of a fork.

Preheat the oven to 375F. Grease a 9x13 pan with a little olive oil. Season the boiling water with a generous amount of salt, then add about half of the gnocchi (if the pot is overcrowded, the pasta won't cook properly). Cook for about a minute, or until the gnocchi float to the top of the pot. Scoop the gnocchi out and transfer to the prepared 9x13 pan. Repeat with the remaining pasta. Wilt the spinach in the pasta water and transfer it to the pan. Pour the tomato-cheese sauce over the pasta and gently stir to combine, being careful not to mash or break the gnocchi.

Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly around the edges.

Pasta with Roasted Pepper Alfredo and Mushrooms

Total Time: about 30 minutes
Makes 4-6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb dried pasta of choice
  • 1 large bell pepper, in whatever color you'd like
  • 8 oz mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 6 Tbsp butter
  • 1 pint heavy cream
  • 1/4 C grated Parmesan
  • freshly ground black pepper

Procedure:
Roast the whole pepper under a broiler, or over a gas flame, until the skin is charred. Transfer the pepper for a paper bag, close, and let steam for 5-10 minutes. When cool enough to handle, scrape or peel off the pepper's skin, remove the stem and seeds, and roughly chop. Puree the pepper in a food processor or blender with about a tablespoon or two of cream and set aside.

Meanwhile, boil the water for the pasta and cook according to package directions. Drain and keep warm while you make the sauce.

In a large sauce pan, melt two tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. Add the garlic and stir until fragrant. Add the mushrooms and heat until browned a bit. Add the remaining butter and the remaining cream. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has thickened. Add the pureed pepper mixture to the sauce, stir in the Parmesan and some black pepper, and taste for seasonings. Stir in the pasta to coat and serve.