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Sunday, September 12, 2010

Herbed Gnocchi with Tomato Lentil Sauce

Hello Lovers,

Making homemade pasta can be quite intimidating but it's actually so easy and SATISFYING!  I am kind of obsessed with dumplings of any kind and gnocchi is for me, the perfect Italian specimen.  Light and pillowy in texture but yet substancial and quite filling!  I used beautiful organic Yukon Gold potatoes from my Mama's garden but starchy baking potatoes like Russet work too.  It is extremely important not to over cook the taters otherwise they will require too much flour and will be far too dense.  Texture is KEY here, people!  Most recipes reccomend steaming the potatoes until a knife/skewer can be inserted but the tater is still firm.  I boiled mine, keeping a very close watch over them.  I kept the sauce nice and fresh to contrast the richness of the pasta.  This will serve two or three hungry peeps.

Herbed Gnocchi with Tomato Lentil Sauce

for the gnocchi:
3 large Yukon Gold Potatoes, peeled and steamed or boiled until JUST tender 
1 cup flour
1 tsp dried oregano (I use freeze dried herbs, they taste just like fresh!)

2 tsp dried basil

½ tsp salt

for the sauce:
½ cup red lentils
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp chopped basil

½ glass white wine

Pinch chilli flakes

Salt and peppa to taste

2 tomatoes

Using a food mill, ricer, potato masher or a fork and some upper body strength, mash the hot potatoes until fairly smooth (I think a few little lumps make the gnocchi more rustic).  Add herbs and salt and enough flour to make a firm, non-sticky dough (you may not need the full cup of flour, you may need more).  Knead dough for one or two minutes to ensure that it is well blended.  Roll the dough into logs that are about one inch in thickness and cut 1/2 inch pieces from the logs.  Gently use the tines of a fork to imprint grooves on the gnocchi (this helps hold the sauce).  Cook the gnocchi in a large pot of salted, boiling water.  As soon as the dumplings rise to the surface, they are donezo!  Remove them from the water with a slotted spoon and drain well. 

Naked Gnocchi

Meanwhile...cover the lentils with just over a cup of water and bring to a boil in a large saucepan.  Reduce the heat to simmer and cook until lentils are very soft and water is completely absorbed.  While the lentils are cooking, cut the tomatoes in half and broil until soft and melted.  Chop said tomoatoes and add to lentils seeds, juices and all.  Use a fork to mash the lentils slightly with the tomatoes.  Add the wine, garlic, olive oil, chili flakes and continue to simmer sauce for a few minutes so the flavours can meld.  Add chopped basil and salt and pepper to taste.  Gently add the gnocchi to the sauce and let them become BFF's for about two minutes.  Serve right away with extra chopped basil on top!   

Delish, delish, DELISH!

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