01 April 2011

Spinach & Herb Gnocchi with Browned Butter, Feta & Roasted Pistachios

I am not Italian.

I don't have grandkids.

I'm blonde.  I'm fair.  I'm single and young-ish.  But I totally made gnocchi.  It popped into my head earlier today, and as I do when confronted with most challenges, my first response was, "Yeah, sure, why not!?"

I may or may not ever want to look at gnocchi again.

If you do go to all the trouble to make your own gnocchi, make sure you do something interesting with it.  Like adding spinach and herbs to the dough, or tossing it in browned butter, crumbled feta and chopped, roasted pistachios. Or uh, both.

If you spend hours making your own gnocchi and then put a jar of pasta sauce on it... who are you??  Do we need to have a talk?

Spinach & Herb Gnocchi with Browned Butter, Feta & Roasted Pistachios
adapted generously from here

for gnocchi:
30g chopped, cooked spinach (weight after squeezed dry)
470g cooked potato - use a floury potato instead of a waxy variety
some fresh herbs -- I used tarragon and lemon thyme, as that's what I had on hand.
lots of flour

for serving:
browned butter (how-to below)
feta cheese, crumbled
chopped roasted pistachio nuts
sea salt
cracked black pepper

Peel and boil potatoes until cooked, then mash with fork while still hot (so they steam) or use a potato ricer.  Allow them to steam cool, then place in a bowl with the cooked and squeezed-out spinach and finely chopped herbs.

At this point, I took my immersion blender and had a go at the mixture.  It wasn't fun or pretty.... but it worked.  The potatoes became strangely glue-like.  It was ok.

Then I added 100g flour and fine sea salt.  I put the mixture on a floured countertop and gently kneaded in more and more and more flour, until the mixture wasn't sticky anymore.  From my research, I'm told this can vary based on many factors, including how humid the air is.  In Scotland, it's super-humid.  I used a lot of flour.  I knew I was done adding flour when the stickiness subsided, and then I started testing pieces, boiling one at a time.  If the cooked gnocchi is gummy in consistency -- you need more flour.

So, once you're done adding flour, take the dough bit-by-bit and roll it out into little snakes about the width of your thumb.  Then cut them into bits, and roll each little piece individually, adding flour when necessary to avoid sticking.  This recipe makes a ton, so I set enough fresh aside to have a nice dinner, and put the rest in plastic containers in the freezer for a rainy day.  Also, I found that the dough worked better cold, so I stuck my snakes in the freezer for a little while to get them to more of a workable consistency.  If you don't care about them being perfectly-formed... let the snakes freeze almost entirely, then cut slices off with a very sharp knife. This makes life easier, especially if they're going into the freezer anyway -- which happened to about 3/4 of this batch.

To make the browned butter (an absolute MUST for this) - melt some butter in a saucepan over low-medium heat, and allow to foam.  Keep the heat on until little flecks in the butter have turned brown and it starts to smell nutty.  Remove from heat.

Cook gnocchi in rapidly-boiling salted water for 3 minutes.  They'll float to the top of the water when they're fully cooked.  Then, toss in browned butter and add feta and pistachios.  Finish with a little sea salt and cracked pepper.  The end.

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