Potato Gnocchi in Tomato Sauce

20130515-192011.jpg

My crazy cooking last week wore me out! One night, Jon got wontons, and just a night or two later he was treated to potato gnocchi. Yikes! That is a lot of cooking for week nights, hence the delay in posting.

I started off by cooking the potatoes in the microwave (I was not about to wait 45 minutes for them to boil!), and then peeling off the skins as soon as I could handle them. I tend to pick things up when they are too hot, and the potatoes were no exception, so there was some blowing on my fingers! After I peeled and mashed up the potatoes (lacking a ricer, the “proper” method), I spread them out to cool, and then added salt, pepper, and allspice.

20130516-201544.jpg

Next I added in the flour and flax eggs to make the gnocchi dough. I shaped the gnocchi by making long ropes of dough, cutting it into smaller pieces, and then pushing each piece down the back of a fork. Eventually, I ended up with a flock of gnocchi. Not quite as graceful as the herd of wontons, but still pretty impressive.
20130516-201905.jpg

While the water was heating up to cook the gnocchi, I whipped up a simple tomato sauce, starting with onions and garlic and then adding in some roughly puréed tomatoes.
20130516-202248.jpg

I always like to have the sauce ready before the first batch of gnocchi is cooked because then I can just put the gnocchi directly into the sauce.

20130516-202324.jpg

Once the sauce was simmering away, I started cooking the gnocchi in batches. You can tell they are done when they float to the top of the boiling water.

20130516-202455.jpg

Finally all the gnocchi was done and ready to be eaten. Yum!

20130516-202542.jpg

Potato Gnocchi with Tomato Sauce

For the gnocchi:
3 large potatoes, boiled (or cooked in the microwave!)
2 flax eggs (2 Tbsp ground flax seeds mixed with 6 Tbsp water)
1 cup whole wheat flour, plus more as needed to form dough
1 tsp ground allspice
Salt and pepper to taste

For the sauce:
1 onion, very finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 large (28 oz) cans diced tomatoes
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp dried basil

Cook the potatoes using your desired method (hint: microwave is faster!), and remove the skins as soon as they are cool enough for you to handle. If you have a ricer, put the potatoes through the ricer and spread in a thin layer to continue to cool. If you don’t have a ricer, you can use a hand masher, but try to incorporate as much air as possible – you don’t want actual mashed potatoes! Allow the potatoes to cool.

In a large pot, boil water. Meanwhile, gather the potatoes together, and make a well in the middle. Pour the flax eggs into the well, and sprinkle 1 cup flour around the potatoes. Add the allspice, salt, and pepper. Using your clean hands, mix everything together. Continue to add flour until you have a soft dough that holds together and isn’t too sticky. You don’t want to add too much flour or mix the dough too much, or the gnocchi will be tough and dense. Dense gnocchi just isn’t as good!

Test the dough by pinching off a small amount and placing it into the boiling water. The dough should stay together and float to the surface in about 3-5 minutes. If your gnocchi falls apart and your dough is really moist, add more flour. If your gnocchi falls apart and the dough is really dry, you probably need to add a little extra water.

Start the tomato sauce by sautéing the onion and garlic until they are softened and flavorful. I wanted a smoother tomato sauce, so I used my immersion blender to mostly purée the diced tomatoes. You can skip this step if you want a chunkier sauce. Mix in the balsamic vinegar, basil, salt and pepper. Cover and allow to simmer while forming and cooking the gnocchi.

Separate the dough into quarters. Roll each quarter into ropes about 3/4″ thick. Using a dough cutter, cut the ropes into 1/2″ segments. Using the back of a fork, push the gnocchi down the fork. You should get nice ridges on one side, and an indentation from your thumb on the other side.

Once all the gnocchi are formed and you’ve scraped all the extra potato mixture off your hands, cook the gnocchi in the salted boiling water in batches. Be sure to gently scrape the bottom of the pot to make sure none are sticking. The gnocchi will take 3-5 minutes to cook, and you’ll know they are done when they float to the top.

As each batch is finished, spoon the gnocchi directly into the tomato sauce. After all the gnocchi is finished, allow them to simmer in the sauce for a minute or two. Serve topped with freshly ground pepper and a little grated Parmesan, if you’re a cheese eater!

Advertisements

Orzo and Peas with Parsley Pesto

20130430-181511.jpg

Mmm…spring! Even though it will only be spring for a few more hours before we are plunged back into winter, I am still excited about it! I decided to make yet another dish with peas: pasta with peas and parsley pesto! It’s the 4P’s, and more exciting than the normal association I make with “the 4P’s” of marketing…

20130430-203424.jpg

I started off by cooking the orzo and peas in some well-salted boiling water. While the pasta was cooking, I mixed up the pesto. Parsley, olive oil, almonds, garlic, salt, and pepper all went into a bowl to be mixed up by my hand blender.

20130430-203924.jpg

After the pesto was blended together, I added a little bit of vegan Parmesan, and mixed it all together.

20130430-204043.jpg

After the orzo and peas were done cooking, everything got mixed together with a little bit of pasta water added to finish the sauce.

20130430-204209.jpg

It was a perfect spring dish accompanied by even more green on the side – a salad topped with homemade vinaigrette. Hopefully it will keep me and Jon warm in the snow tomorrow!

20130430-204734.jpg

Orzo with Peas and Parsley Pesto

1.5 cups dried orzo
16 ounces peas (fresh or frozen)
Large bunch parsley
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tsp sea salt, plus more to taste
1/4 cup slivered almonds
2 cloves garlic
1.5 Tbsp vegan Parmesan cheese (optional)

In a pot large enough for both the orzo and the peas, boil a good amount of water. When the water is boiling, salt it well, then add the orzo. About 6 minutes before the orzo will be done cooking, add the peas.

While the orzo and peas are cooking, make the parsley pesto. Place the parsley, garlic cloves, salt, almonds, and olive oil in a cuisinart or hand mixer. Add pepper and additional salt to taste, and blend until smooth. Add the Parmesan, if using, and mix together.

When the pasta and orzo are done cooking, reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water and then drain. Place the orzo and peas back in the cooking pot, then add the parsley pesto. Add enough cooking liquid to form a sauce. Serve topped with more Parmesan and a sprinkling of sea salt flakes.

20130430-204603.jpg

Rigatoni with Kale

20130417-074713.jpg
I wanted to make something with rigatoni recently, so I decided to combine it with kale and cannellini beans in a lemony white wine sauce.

I started off by slicing up shallots, then mincing an onion and several garlic cloves. After sautéing the shallots and onion in a little olive oil, I added the garlic. I love the smell when garlic hits a hot pan!

20130417-075043.jpg

While the shallot-onion mixture was cooking away, I blanched the kale for a few minutes, then added it to the pan along with vegetarian “chicken” and cannellini beans.

20130417-075321.jpg

After flavoring the veggie mixture with freshly-grated nutmeg (thank you Savory Spice!) and red pepper flakes, I added white wine and lemon juice. Once the sauce simmered for a few minutes, I poured in all the rigatoni and a little bit of pasta water to help finish the sauce.

20130417-075640.jpg

Even though Jon is skeptical of kale (he said I needed to add a few “yucks” on his behalf to the post), we both enjoyed the healthy pasta.

Rigatoni with kale

1 lb Rigatoni, cooked
4 shallots, thinly sliced
1 onion, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 bunch kale, stems and ribs removed
15 ounces cannellini beans (cooked, or 1 can)
Vegetarian chicken chunks, optional
1/2 cup dry white wine – whatever you want to drink with dinner would be best!
1 Tbsp lemon juice
Red pepper flakes to taste
Freshly grated nutmeg (about 1/2 tsp)
Zest of 1 lemon

Blanch the kale in well-salted water until bright green. Drain and rinse in cold water to stop the cooking.

Sauté the onion and shallots in a little bit of olive oil until they are lightly caramelized. Add a little bit of salt to help the onion and shallots release their liquid. If they begin to stick to the pan, add a little bit of the pasta water.

Add the garlic cloves, red pepper flakes, nutmeg, vegetarian chicken chunks, and cannellini beans to the pan. Cook the “chicken” and beans for a few minutes, then add the kale, white wine, and lemon juice.

Simmer the sauce for a few minutes, then add the cooked rigatoni. Add pasta water to finish the sauce, then cook the rigatoni in the sauce for a minute.

Serve with freshly ground pepper and sprinkled with lemon zest.

20130417-075932.jpg

Vegetarian Pad Thai

20130330-165500.jpg
One of Jon’s favorite meals is Pad Thai. I like it because it is spicy and can be whipped together fairly quickly after work!

I started off by chopping up the white parts of several green onions, along with carrot sthat I sliced into thin matchsticks. This went into the pan to sauté in some peanut oil, along with sliced water chestnuts. If you wanted to add thinly sliced red pepper, it is a great addition to this dish.

20130330-165908.jpg

While the veggies were cooking, I started the rice noodles. Normally I would use wider noodles, but unfortunately only the thin rice noodles could be found at the grocery store.

Once the carrots, onion, and water chestnuts were softened, I added some vegetarian chicken and lots of bean sprouts to sauté for a few minutes.

20130330-170128.jpg

Next I mixed up the sauce with soy sauce, sriracha, lime juice, and a little brown sugar.

20130330-170251.jpg

Once the noodles were cooked and drained, I mixed them into the pan with all the veggies and some chopped green onion, and then poured the sauce over it all. Big tongs are the only reasonable way to mix it all together!

20130330-170512.jpg

The pad thai is delicious topped with some more green onions, peanuts, and an extra squeeze of lime juice.

20130330-170721.jpg

Vegetarian Pad Thai

1 bunch green onions, chopped
3 carrots, sliced into thin matchsticks
1 can water chestnuts
Package of bean sprouts
8-10 ounces rice noodles
3-4 Tbsp soy sauce
3-4 Tbsp lime juice
1.5 Tbsp brown sugar
3 Tbsp sriracha sauce (you can substitute tomato paste mixed with a little garlic if you aren’t a fan of spicy food)
Peanuts for topping

In a wide pan, sauté the white parts of the green onions, the carrots, and the water chestnuts until softened slightly, about 5 minutes. Add the bean sprouts and sauté for a few minutes more. If the veggies start sticking, add a little soy sauce to the pan.

Mix the sauce by combining 3 Tbsp soy sauce, 3 Tbsp lime juice, the brown sugar and the sriracha sauce. Taste, and add soy sauce or lime juice to adjust the saltiness or sourness of the sauce as needed.

Add the cooked rice noodles and half of the green onions to the pan. Mix together with the veggies using tongs. Pour the sauce over the veggie and noodle mixture, and mix together.

Serve topped with green onions, peanuts, and a squeeze of fresh lime juice.

20130330-171641.jpg

Rigatoni in a Garlic White Wine Broth

20130216-091958.jpg

My last two attempted posts suffered from technological difficulties–after finishing a draft of the post, they both disappeared. This temporarily squelched my desire to post (though fortunately for Jon, not my desire to cook!); hopefully this one will go through successfully!

I love different pasta shapes, including rigatoni. I had bought some rigatoni on a recent trip to the store, but hadn’t figured out how to use it. Finally, I decided to use it in a dish that typically uses spaghetti–a garlic white wine sauce with tomatoes and spinach.

20130216-091124.jpg

I started off the sauce by sautéing a diced onion in a little olive oil. Once the onion caramelized, I added diced red pepper and several cloves of minced garlic. After the pepper was softened, this all went on a plate while I cooked the spinach.

20130216-091212.jpg

I sautéed the spinach in a little more olive oil, also adding veggie broth to start forming a sauce.

20130216-091411.jpg

After the spinach was slightly wilted, I added in some diced tomatoes and returned the rest of the veggies to the pan along with some additional veggie broth and lemon thyme (this actually does give dishes a little lemon flavor). Finally, I added some white wine and simmered it all together to finish the sauce.

20130216-091722.jpg

Finally, I mixed in the rigatoni, letting the noodles simmer in the sauce for a few minutes to absorb all the yummy flavors. Although I didn’t have any bread, this pasta would be great served with a piece of crusty bread to soak up the leftover sauce.

20130216-091932.jpg

Mediterranean Pasta with Olive and Artichokes

20130120-155614.jpg

This dish is a great variation on traditional tomato sauce, and includes juicy artichoke hearts and salty olives. I started off by sautéing onions and garlic until they were slightly caramelized, adding in yellow pepper slices to saute with the onion. Then i deglazed the pan with some white wine, followed by diced tomatoes. This all simmered together for a few minutes, and then i added the quartered artichoke hearts, halved kalamata olives, a little red wine vinegar, thyme, oregano, and some miso paste.

20130120-160116.jpg

Miso paste isn’t exactly a common addition in Mediterranean style pasta dishes, but I think it really added some interesting depth to the sauce. Of course, it could be left out if you don’t have any.

20130120-160254.jpg

Once the sauce had simmered for a few more minutes, I mixed in some whole wheat penne to absorb some of the sauce.

20130120-160401.jpg
The sauce was rich and flavorful, with the artichoke hearts and the penne absorbing some of the liquid, and the olives providing briny bursts of flavor throughout. Yum!

20130120-160550.jpg

Mediterranean Pasta with Artichokes and Olives
6 ounces whole wheat penne, cooked al dente
15 ounce can diced tomatoes
4 ounces kalamata olives, pitted and halved
5 artichoke hearts (1 can), drained and quartered
1 onion, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, smashed and minced
1 yellow or red pepper, thinly sliced
1/3 cup white wine
Red wine vinegar to taste
2 tsp dried thyme
1.5 tsp dried Greek oregano
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 Tbsp mellow white miso paste (optional)

Sauté the onion in a small amount of olive oil and kosher salt until softened and slightly caramelized. Add in the garlic and cook until fragrant, then add in the yellow pepper slices. Cook until slightly softened, then deglaze the pan with the white wine.

Add in the diced tomatoes, and simmer for a few minutes. Add the red wine vinegar, thyme, artichoke hearts, olives, and miso paste (if using).

Stir gently to combine, being sure not to crush the artichoke hearts. If using the miso paste, be sure it is completely dissolved in the sauce. Cover and simmer until the sauce cooks down slightly. Salt and pepper to taste.

Mix in the cooked pasta and heat through. Delicious without a topping, but can also be topped with some grated Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Mom’s Spaghetti Sauce

20130113-122826.jpg

Homemade spaghetti sauce is a meal I’ve had and made so much that I could practically cook it in my sleep, especially since it is one of Jon’s favorite meals. Although I don’t typically follow my mom’s recipe exactly, it is the general basis for most of my tomato sauce variations.

I started off by sautéing chopped onions until they were soft and slightly caramelized, then added in the garlic. Once the garlic was fragrant, I deglazed the pan with balsamic vinegar, then added diced tomatoes tomato paste, and some water.

20130113-123630.jpg

I didn’t have any basil (a dire situation for my kitchen!), so I decided to add oregano and thyme. I also like to add a little bit of turmeric to highlight the tomato flavor and add a little extra depth to the sauce. Once the sauce was simmering, I added the vegan Italian sausage to cook in the sauce. If you use regular sausage, I think you would want to cook it before adding it to the sauce.

20130113-123731.jpg

After the noodles were cooked, the spaghetti was ready to serve! I fancied up the table a little more than normal with candlesticks passed down from my grandmother that I received for Christmas, along with some beautiful candles my parents gave me. I love this meal because it is both elegant (assuming you don’t spatter yourself with sauce while eating) and comfort food. Yum!

20130113-124017.jpg

Mom’s Spaghetti Sauce
1 large onions, chopped
Olive oil
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
Basil (or any Italian style herb you might have)
1 can tomato paste (6 ounce)
1 large can diced tomatoes (you can also use crushed tomatoes, or tomato purée, or even chopped fresh tomatoes)
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
1/2 cup red wine (balsamic vinegar or red wine vinegar can be substituted)
1-2 Tbsp sugar (I normally leave this out as I like a more tart sauce)
12-16 ounces water
Italian sausage (vegan sausage works great too)

Put olive oil in a non-aluminum pot and heat. Add onion and basil, along with pepper, then allow to cook for 5 minutes, stirring as necessary. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add diced tomatoes, tomato paste, and water, then mix well. Add wine and 1 Tbsp sugar, then bring to a simmer and cook. If using sausage, add now to allow the flavor to permeate the sauce. Simmer sauce until it reaches desired thickness. Taste and add sugar, salt, or vinegar as needed.

20130113-124918.jpg