Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Gnocchi of Peace


It's time to gather everyone from all across this beautiful Earth for a communal meal that is peaceful, wholesome, and delicious. Pull up a chair and join me in some good food, a nice chat... and may I pour you a glass of wine? Yes, it's red. I know, most people pair a white wine with a meal like this and if I had a Frascati chilling in the fridge, I might serve that. But this Ruvei Barbera d'Alba is so wonderful... and besides, the red kind is my favorite.

What's a gnocchi and why would it be peaceful? Gnocchi is a little dumpling made of potato and semolina flour.  They can be boiled or pan fried very quickly so they are perfect for a peaceful cookery conclusion to a wonderful day - even to a work day. I purchased pre-made gnocchi - sweet potato and whole wheat gnocchi! Lovely flavor, do try them.

As this is a quick recipe to make, it's a good idea to get all your prep done first. Far less stressful that way. You also have the time to enjoy company while you cook so you don't get all frazzled once you realize you forgot the garlic.

Frazzled people are not peaceful, so let’s cook up some peace.

The Gnocchi of Peace

Things you will need:

1 1/2 pounds or more of broccoli crowns
2 large garlic cloves
1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes
1 t hot red pepper flakes
2 T olive oil1 pound whole wheat gnocchi
Parmesan to taste or omit the Parmesan and make it Vegan!

How to Prep and Assemble the ingredients in lovely bowls and containers all smartly lined up on the counter in order of appearance:

Set your bottle of olive oil and gnocchi on the counter next to the stove.

While you are at it, you may as well make sure there's some good fresh Romano or Parmesan in your cheese grater. I do hope you have one of those nice little hand held cheese graters for use at the table. There is nothing like freshly ground cheese to finish a dish nicely.

Cut the stems off the broccoli close to the crowns. You can save these for another use or you may peel, slice, and use them in the dish. Separate the pretty little crowns of the broccoli so that you have them all nicely down to a manageable bite assuming the bite will also contain a gnocchi. Put the broccoli in a colander and gently rinse. Just let it hang there in the colander until its presence is required in the cookery directions below.

Slice the garlic or run it through a press if you prefer. It all depends on how you enjoy your garlic. Allow it to sit exposed to air while you prepare the sun dried tomatoes... The World's Healthiest Foods says that the chemical reaction when the garlic juices are exposed to air enhances certain nutritional elements. I have no idea if it works, but my scientist family says it makes sense so I do it.

Rough chop the sun dried tomatoes and place them in a small bowl.

Measure the hot red pepper flakes and pour them on the tomatoes. If you want, you can put the garlic on top. It can finish it's magical chemical reaction right there. Put the seasoning bowl next to the gnocchi package.

You might as well set the table now and open the wine to breathe.

How to finish the meal:

Put the broccoli in a 2 quart casserole with about a cup or so of water and nuke for 5 minutes if you have a new fangled fast microwave and 8 minutes if your microwave is 25 years old like mine and rather slowish. Let it sit covered while you start the gnocchi. If you are anti-microwave, no worries. Just boil or steam the broccoli for about 5-6 minutes and drain - make sure you reserve at least a cup of the boiling water.

While the broccoli is cooking, pour about 2 T of olive oil in a skillet and heat the pan over medium until the oil just starts to shimmer. It's so pretty when it does that. Add the gnocchi and saute until they soften and brown. Let them sit a few minutes between stirs because that will help them to brown. They really don't take long to cook. They will soften and plump just a bit.

While the gnocchi finishes browning, put the colander over a small bowl and drain the broccoli, saving the cooking water for later - in fact, just go ahead and put the cooking water by the stove so you don't forget about it.

When the gnocchi are pretty and lightly browned, add the sun dried tomatoes, garlic, and hot pepper flakes. Saute for a couple minutes. Then add the broccoli and continue to stir. Add about 1/2 a cup of the water and keep a stirring. Keep this up until the dish is nice and hot throughout. Add water as you need to.

Place in a serving bowl and enjoy with a twist of Parmesan and a drizzle of olive oil.

This is not a "juicy" dish. Nor a complex one. If you would like it to be more moist, as if there were a sauce, add more cookery water from the broccoli and allow it to cook a bit more. It would probably be ok with some chopped fresh tomatoes which you could put in with the broccoli.

To complete this meal, make a salad of mixed leaf lettuces with either sweet red pepper or tomatoes.

If you want to make your very own gnocchi, let Benny the Chef show you how with his cookery book.

You can over garlic this dish. I did. I used four large cloves of garlic and they overwhelmed the other subtle flavors. Two large cloves or 3 smaller ones will be fine.

With this wonderful recipe, I Declare World Peace. Enjoy, mindfully... would you like another glass of wine?

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