I think I should have some claim to making gnocchi; after all, an entire fourth of my blood runs pure Sicilian olive oil. Then again, it is only a fourth.
I decided to put spinach in my gnocchi (which is Italian potato pasta, by the way) simply for aesthetic appeal. I could not taste it in the least, and it did not solve the blah aspect of the gnocchi’s taste. But is gnocchi supposed to have a delicious taste? I think not, but I cannot really remember. Oh well, at least it is pretty.
The sauce ended up pleasing me more. I love tomatoes, and sundried tomatoes condense all the wonderfulness of a tomato’s flavor into a smaller, intensified package. What a deal! Tomatoes are to sundried tomatoes as maple tree sap is to maple syrup, in my mind. The best part about the sundried tomatoes in our freezer is that they are from our garden, so I know what fungicides have been used on them! Ha! If we lived elsewhere, perhaps I could say they were organically grown in the pure soil of our backyard. Alas, tomato fungi and southern accents flourish equally in our humid, pine pollen-filled air, so we are forced to use fungicides and watch a weekly dose of Downton Abbey to stave off the ill effects. My consolation is that I know which chemicals have been used.
After the following excuse, I promise to actually present the recipe to which I keep referring.
I told myself – something I often do with the best, if most futile, of motives – when I started this blog, that it would not become an outlet for nonsense and trivialities of my life, including cooking. But! I have, of course, formulated a convenient excuse for allowing myself to bend my predetermined blogging principles: cooking is part of my gap year! Yeaaah, that’s it! Well, it is. People keep telling me I should be a food journalist “when I grown up.” I rather like that idea. Therefore, since the purpose of this gap year is to aid me in deciding or starting along the road to becoming what I want to be “when I grow up,” cooking – and learning how to cook more effectively, tastily, and healthily – falls into the scope of this blog. Now I have logically justified my actions. That feels better.
Okay. The recipe.
- 1-½ cup sundried tomatoes
- 2 whole large russet potatoes
- 1 cup frozen spinach
- 1 egg
- 1 cup whole white wheat flour, plus 3 tablespoons
- 2-½ cups milk
- ½ cups grated parmesan cheese
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1-½ teaspoon rosemary
- 1 teaspoon basil
- ⅛ teaspoon pepper
Place the sundried tomatoes in a small bowl and with enough water to cover them. Leave them to soak.
Sometime during microwaving the potatoes, put the frozen spinach in a bowl with some water and microwave it along with the potatoes for a few minutes until it has thawed. Squeeze as much water as you can out of the spinach.
Peel the cooked potatoes and place them in a large bowl along with the egg, spinach, and a few dashes of salt. Use a hand mixer on the lowest setting to the ingredients together until there are no chunks of potatoes left. If tiny potato bits remain, mash the mixture with a fork until they disappear.
On a floured surface, knead the 1 cup of flour into the potato mixture.
Divide the dough into 8 parts and roll each into a rope 8 or so inches long and 3/4 inch in diameter.
Cut the ropes into 1/2-inch segments.
Remove the sundried tomatoes from their soaking water. Using kitchen shears, cut them into small pieces.
In a medium saucepan whisk together the milk and remaining 3 tablespoons flour. Bring the mixture to a low boil, stirring constantly. Then add the parmesan. Reduce to a simmer and stir frequently as the sauce thickens, about 15 minutes.
After the sauce has reduce by a bit less than half or has thickened to your liking, add 1/2 teaspoon salt, spices, and sundried tomatoes. Remove the sauce from the heat.
Bring lightly salted water to a boil in a pot. Add the gnocchi in batches. Remove them with a slotted spoon when they float to the top of the water; that is when they are done.