Monday, January 31, 2011

Italian 101

“Mangiando insieme, godiamo la vita”

(By eating, we enjoy life)

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Any person who likes to cook or eat (usually a person likes at least one—in my case both!), can relate to the above Italian quote which is commonly used in Italian kitchens worldwide. There’s just something that screams comfort food, family, and fresh flavors when anything Italian hits the table. But in all reality, I haven’t cooked or eaten as many Italian foods as I’d like. And another reason I want to widen my Italian food palate; remember how I teach cooking classes? Well they implemented a new feedback/suggestion program, and one of the requested themes has repeatedly been Italian—brilliant, huh? I love my students!!

So how about I start this goal to get “in touch” more frequently with Italian food by making gnocchi? I’ve eaten it quite a bit, but I’ve never made it completely from scratch. And what better day to do it then on a lazy snowy Sunday afternoon?

Didn’t think you’d complain!!!

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Gnocchi with Chicken and Tomatoes

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs whole baking potatoes

  • 2 beaten egg yolks

  • 1 1/2 cups flour

  • 1  medium yellow onion, finely chopped

  • 1  large can of chicken, drained

  • 1 large can of Italian stewed tomatoes, drained

  • 1  clove garlic, finely chopped

  • 1  5-ounce bag baby spinach

  • 1/4  teaspoon  black pepper

  • 3/4  cup  (3 ounces) grated Parmesan, plus more for garnishing

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spear the potatoes with fork tines in several places around each potato to vent moisture as the potatoes cook. Bake the potatoes in their skins until tender, about an hour. Let cool on a rack, cutting them open to help cool and let more moisture escape.

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Scoop out the potatoes from their skins. Mash the potatoes by hand and fluff them up a bit with a fork. It is best to work with the potatoes when they are still warm.

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Add the flour, egg and a pinch of salt. Mix by hand until you have a nice pliable ball of dough. Do not overmix.

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Prepare a work area and dust it with flour. Take the dough, a piece at a time, and roll it out gently with your hands until you have rolls about 3/4 inch in diameter. It is very important to keep a light touch while you are rolling the dough. Gently roll the dough with your fingertips while while exerting the lightest pressure outwards, not down, to draw the dough out.

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Cut the tubes of dough into pieces about one inch long. Using either the tines of a fork or your fingertip, press against a piece of the dough and roll it slightly to form an indentation (good for catching the sauce). As the gnocchi are made, place them on flat baking pan, lightly dusted with flour or lined with wax paper. At this point you can freeze the gnocchi ahead of time. Freeze them first on a floured or lined tray, then once frozen you can put them into a freezer bag for more easy storage. Bring water to a boil in medium sauce pot. Add a few gnocchi at a time—once they float to the top, place them on a wax papered cookie sheet. Reserve 1/4 c cooking liquid.

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Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken and  the tomatoes, garlic, spinach, salt, and pepper and cook, tossing frequently, until the spinach wilts, about 3 minutes. Add the drained gnocchi, the reserved cooking liquid, and the Parmesan and toss. Divide among individual bowls and sprinkle with additional Parmesan.

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NOTES: This literally took 45 minutes from start to finish, which I think is quite good for such a delicious meal that tastes like it took all day!

What’s your favorite Italian dish? 

34 comments:

Christina said...

oh my gosh YUM. i have never made gnocchi but people always say they're surprised at how easy it is. i must try soon!

Kerrymarie said...

this looks great but i don't think i'd ever attempt gnocchi!

Megan D said...

Ahh homemade gnocchi?! Yes please! Love that Italian quote :)

Ally (oatsandspice) said...

The gnocchi looks amazingggg... YUMMMM :)

I love your blog - it is so cute! I can't wait to keep reading... I just started blogging about 2 months ago - it is extremely addicting :) Take a look at it if you get a chance: http://www.oatsandspice.wordpress.com

emily said...

Wow that gnocchi looks really easy to make! I will have to try this! Yummmy!

Katrina said...

Yum. That looks so good. I love gnocchi.

Erica said...

Italian, SO delicious! I took a gnocchi and risotto cooking class- it was so much fun! Gnocchi isn't easy to master, but I love that there are so many ways to switch it up (sweet potato gnocchi, squash/pumpkin gnocchi, different cheese mixed into the dough)- just a lot of fun! My favorite italian dish? oh gosh....lasagna? stuffed shells? I also love simple spaghetti with olive oil, red pepper, and Parmesan!

Lee @ Fit Foodie Finds said...

Easy- Grandma Marie's homemade pizza!!! Also Pizza-Fritzas....It is just like a homemade doughnut! We use the left over pizza dough and fry it up in oil and sprinkle sugar on top. Not the healthiest..but definitely worth it!

Mary said...

Oh, my! I have been tempted beyond my ability to resist. This looks incredible and demands to be tried. I hope you have a great day. Blessings...Mary

Krista said...

I have never been brave enough to make gnocchi! You did a fab job. I really like chicken cacciatore served over polenta....

Jessica@tastyandtrim said...

that looks SO yummy!!! My favorite Italian dish has to be rigatoni with marinara - it's simple, but amazinggg! Have a great weekend love :)

Nicole, RD said...

I think 45 minutes from start to finish is IMPRESSIVE for gnocchi. I don't like gnocchi because it's too doughy for me, but hubby LOVES it! I tried it in Italy and didn't like it there, either. And if I didn't like it there...it's probably just a dislike for me! But it sounds so gooood!!! :) I think pizza (stone fire) is my favorite Italian dish. OR, anything seafood!

Have a great weekend, Cassie!!!

Kim said...

Good for you making your own homemade gnocchi. I've never had much luck making it from scratch before, but I do love it.

Never saw a version with chicken and tomatoes. Looks wonderful.

Kerstin said...

Homemade gnocchi is the best and definitely the perfect thing to make on a snowy day! I'm impressed it only took you 45 min!

Tropical Eats said...

this looks like the perfect cozy winter meal :) looks delish!

tonight im going to attempt either eggplant parm or eggplant lasagna. kind of excited to give it a whirl!

Mandi said...

Oh girl this looks fantastic! The hubs FAVE Italian dish is gnocchi! I will have to bookmark this one!

Kylie @ A Hungry Spoon said...

I'm SO impressed! I've never dreamed of making gnocchi from scratch and you took this challenge head-on and ran with it! Your dish looks seriously dee-lish :)

Happy Sunday to you!

Katecooks said...

I'm so impressed! That dish looks really good...gnocchi is one of my favorites!

Amy at TheSceneFromMe said...

My favorite is whole wheat pasta with browned butter sauce and mizithra cheese. That's one of the dishes at The Spaghetti Factory and it's so so so good!

Lisa said...

I would love to make homemade gnocchi. I'm absolutely crazy about it. Yours looks delicious.

Jessica said...

MMM your gnocchi look great! One of my favorites!

Paige Gould said...

I agree those gnocchi, do look fantastic, wtg

megan @ whatmegansmaking said...

I absolutely love homemade gnocchi! It is probably my favorite Italian meal. My grandma used to make them all the time, and now I carry on the tradition :)

laurie said...

I have never made this but it looks wonderful!

Natalie said...

i love gnocchi and haven't made it in way too long. this looks fabulous!

brandi said...

Beautiful! This is one thing I have NOT made from scratch yet. But I love gnocchi.

Kelsey said...

gorgeous little "pillows" of gnocchi, really a drool-worthy feast. who doesnt love Italian- so many wonderful meal memories that i have stem from Italian based recipes!! <3

Meri said...

Making gnocchi is so fun! You get to play with your food haha~
I'm having a giveaway- come see!
Meri
merigoesround.blogspot.com

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