At times there are magical moments when I open up a recipe book and become mouth-wateringly fixed on a certain culinary delight. The magic happens, mind you, when I realize that without planning, I already have all of the ingredients I need for that specific dish in my very own kitchen. This is oh-so-exciting and satisfying in the most delicious type of way.

Just last night in fact, I had a magic moment when I turned to page twenty five of my ‘EveryDay Foods’ and saw the bite-sized morsels of homemade gnocchi practically falling off the page and respectfully onto my plate…And so the cooking began…

I decided to make a Gnocchi, Tomato, Ricotta Cheese Bake, and I’m sure after seeing the pictures below, you will decide to make one too. When you do, please promise me this:    Acknowledge the way your rustic tomato sauce adheres ever so gently into the fork-print grooves of your little potato bites of heaven. Look out for the subtle hints of sauteed garlic, and appreciate the crunch of freshly ground pepper and coarse sea salt. Be sure to grate your choice of fromage, (I chose Prima Donna) generously and with reckless abandon, you will not regret this. Serve your beautiful dish in individual ramekins if you have them on hand, it will make both you and whom ever you share this with feel extra special, and feel free to prepare a simple salad of crispy Spinach leaves, fresh figs, and sliced avocado, tossed with a grassy olive oil, balsamic vinegar and a spot of honey…a sprinkle of dried herbs de provence should top it off quite nicely…Pour yourself a beverage of choice in your favorite glass, take a deep breath and dig in. Your palate will thank you as you treat it to a plethora of flavorful excellence…See recipes below. Bon Appetite! ~p.e.

Homemade Gnocchi

Gnocchi are bite-sized potato dumplings made to serve & satisfy each lucky mouth they enter. I first learned of these italian treats when Giada DeLaurentis was cooking them for the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy. I watched her skillfully mold, boil and serve this steaming pasta alternative accompanied by a homemade marina sauce straight from the skillet, and I simply knew this would not be our last encounter…Shamefully, it has taken me 4 years to try making them myself, yet I enjoyed every step of the simple process, from ricing the potatoes to swallowing the perfectly bite sized pieces whole :)

Boil two pounds of small, russet potatoes, drain and let cool. Savor the somewhat time consuming process of ‘mashing’ the cooled potatoes by passing them through a ricer, or in my case a garlic press…

Combine the ‘riced’ potatoes with 1 cup of all purpose flour, and one egg, kneading until your dough is just mixed. Divide your dough into 8 pieces, and roll each piece out into a log, about 1/2 inch tall. Cut your little nibbles into the size of your liking, and using the back side of a fork, press the tongs to create linear grooves.

Boil the dumplings in salted water until they rise to the surface, about 3 minutes, remove with a slotted spoon. Place the gnocchi gently into your baking dish of choice, and top with a marinara sauce (I simply sauteed minced garlic with olive oil, chopped, fresh tomatoes, salt, pepper and oregano), and a healthy dollop of Ricotta Cheese. Finely grate your choice of complimentary fromage to finish it off, and place your creation into an oven heated to 350 degrees fahrenheit for about 10-12 minutes, or while you prepare your bed of greens…

Meanwhile, combine 2 tablespoons of Olive Oil with 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar, a generous spoonful of honey (I used orange blossom which was simply delicious), salt, pepper and a dash of herbs de provence in your favorite salad bowl. Top your homemade dressing with the freshest, crispiest Spinach leaves you can find, and gently toss to coat. Slice ripe avocado, and juicy figs over top your salad, and serve along side your oven ready Gnocchi Delight.

Ta Da! Il pasto è pronto…I hope your first homemade gnocchi experience was as tastefully rewarding as my own…

Ciao Bella ~p.e.