Friday, August 20, 2010

I made Gnudi w/ onion, sausage, wilted arugula + toasted walnuts!

So back in May, my parents celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary! I told them I would like to cook them dinner as an anniversary gift, but then we could never find a date that worked until the very end of July. But, finally, the day came around and I tried to figure out what to make.

All I knew was that I wanted to make something summery, and simple - but impressive. After looking at a few recipes, I decided to make GNUDI, the potato-less, lighter cousin of gnocchi. Even though I was a bit apprehensive about making something for the first time for such an important occasion (what if it comes out wrong??) I decided to just go for it.

Turns out, it was really not all that hard!! Phew. Here is what you need:

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Unsalted butter
1 bunch tarragon (I also think other herbs like basil, sage, rosemary, etc. would work.)
1 lemon
1 small white onion
1 egg
¾ lb fresh ricotta cheese
¼ lb freshly grated parmigiano reggiano
1/3 cup semolina flour
1 tbls all purpose flour
small bag whole, shelled walnuts
a bunch of baby arugula
sausage of your choice (optional) - I used D'artagnan brand chicken sausage with truffles - fancy! -(Mushrooms would be a good vegetarian alternative in this recipe.)
homemade or store-bought vegetable stock for poaching the gnudi (optional) - I just used water.

Make the Gnudi Mixture

In a small mixing bowl, combine the ricotta, one tablespoon chopped tarragon, egg, Parmigiano, half of the flour and the tbls of all-purpose flour. Using a wooden spoon, mix until the ingredients are well combined. Salt and pepper to taste.

Place the remaining flour in a shallow bowl. Using floured hands, pinch about a tablespoon worth of mixture and form into a little football shape. Dredge each through the flour in the bowl and onto a baking sheet. Continue this until you’ve made as many gnocchi shaped pieces as you can. You can either immediately poach them or cover with foil and refrigerate for up to a few hours.

(The lemon in the photo gives you an idea of the size of these.)

Poach the Gnudi

Bring either stock or plain water to a simmer (not boil). Take out the gnudi and drop 5 or so into the pot for about 2 minutes, or until they rise to the top of the liquid. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on a clean flat baking sheet. Do this for all of the gnudi, being gentle and taking care not to break them as they can be delicate. Refrigerate for up to a day, or let rest for about a half hour before finishing the dish.

Make the toppings

Roughly chop the walnuts and toast them, either in a pan or an oven. Watch them closely so they do not burn! Sautee the onion in some butter or oil slowly in a large pan until translucent. Season with salt and pepper and some lemon juice. Chop and add sausage (or mushrooms) if using. Sautee until sausage (or mushrooms) are browned. Carefully add the gnudi to the mixture, gently stirring just to incorporate the ingredients and heat the gnudi. They are very delicate ! You don't want to break them. Add the arugula just for a moment, it will wilt quickly.

Plate up the gnudi and season with some more grated Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, and lemon juice.

I served this with a kale salad with mint and lime dressing and some baby heirloom tomatoes that I marinated in oil, garlic and salt + pepper.

For dessert I made a fruit salad with multi-colored plums, blueberries, and marinated it for a few hours with some honey, lime juice and chopped mint. We had it with vanilla ice cream!

Man, it was a pretty awesome summer dinner!! Happy anniversary to my parents.

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