I've been gone for a really long time. In that time I've been to San Francisco, Chicago, Boston, San Diego, and DC. I interviewed at 6 grad schools, got upgraded to first class (I'm ruined for life), experienced real winter, attended a funeral, visited my in-laws, snuggled with my canine sister-in-law Abby, and ate pizza in almost every city. I have to admit, as a former New Yorker, Chicago pizza was surprisingly delish, and don't even get me started on their donuts. It's been craziness, and now that I'm finally back home, fluffy-socked in my kitchen with an orange puppy at my feet and my favorite french cafe radio pandora station that makes me feel both like a goddess and like I'm in Paris, I'm back in my element and so happy to be here.
While in Chicago a couple weeks ago, I bought a little gnocchi press from Eataly and knew I had to make gnocchi as soon as I got home. This dish is both green and filled with potatoes, so naturally, it's perfect for St. Patrick's Day. I must admit, I've only had corn beef and cabbage once, and in my experience it was absolutely repulsive. Oh and if you're feeling guilty about eating potatoes for dinner, (I'm not!) know that this fresh pesto is packed with spinach, and everyone's favorite Kale, so it's actually pretty healthy. With a nice dose of creamy mascarpone, and sweet sun-dried tomatoes, this meal is really something special.
I've been making America's Test Kitchen gnocchi for years, it's one of those things that is really surprisingly easy. They perfected the technique so I don't even try to mess with it. The gnocchi itself, doesn't require any special equipment, except maybe a potato ricer, and all of the ingredients are super basic. No pasta maker needed. And it's super fun, and dare I say, kind of relaxing.
Homemade Gnocchi with Spinach, Kale, Mascarpone & Sundried Tomato Pesto
Adapted from America's Test Kitchen
Serves 4-6 as a main
For the Gnocchi
4 pounds russet potatoes
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
1.5 cups plus 2 tablespoons All Purpose Flour
2 teaspoons salt
For The Pesto:
2 garlic cloves
1.5 cups packed kale
2 cups packed spinach
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup grated parmesan
4 oz mascarpone
3 oz sundried tomatoes
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Poke several holes in the potatoes then microwave them on high for 5 minutes, flip, then microwave another 5 minutes. Remove from microwave, place directly on oven rack, and cook for about 20 minutes until a skewer easily pierces through.
While potatoes are still hot, hold each potato in a kitchen towel, and using a pairing knife, carefully peel away the skins and discard. Once all of the skins are removed, press potatoes through a potato ricer and spread them out in a thin layer across two large baking sheets. Let them cool slightly.
Meanwhile, make the pesto. Pulse garlic in the bowl of a food processor until finely chopped then add kale and spinach and pulse again until finely chopped. Add the pine nuts, olive oil, salt, lemon juice, parmesan, and mascarpone and blend until smooth. Add the sundried tomatoes and pulse 3-5 times, or until you've achieved desired consistency, you'll want the tomatoes to stay a bit chunky. Set aside. Note, the pest can be prepared well in advance and stored in the refrigerator.
Make the gnocchi. Prepare two large sheet pans with parchment paper and dust liberally with flour. Bring a large pot of salted water to a gentle boil. In a large bowl mix together potatoes, eggs, flour and salt. Transfer dough to a floured work surface, and with floured hands knead the dough for about 1 minute. Divide the dough in half, forming two smooth rounds. Divide each round into 8 equally sized pieces. Roll each piece into a 1/2 inch thick rope, then using a bench scraper cut the rope into 3/4th inch pieces of gnocchi. Press each gnocchi into the backside of a fork (or a gnocchi press if you have one, though honestly the fork works just fine), rolling it to create a fold on the backside - here's a great video. Transfer gnocchi to the sheet pans, making sure they don't touch.
Once gnocchi are completed, gently fold the parchment paper in half, and pour the gnocchi into the boiling water. Cook one pan of gnocchi at a time as not to crowd them in the boiling water. Cook for about 90 seconds - they will float to the top just before they are done. Transfer cooked gnocchi to a large bowl, gently toss with pesto, and top with freshly grated parmesan.
This sauce is awesome with regular pasta, or on crostini.
You should have just enough sauce for 1 batch of gnocchi.