Food + Wine

Parsnip Goat Cheese Gnocchi

I love making my own gnocchi.  The difference in texture and flavor
of homemade, versus packaged gnocchi, is night and day.  It’s a tedious
job, making gnocchi, but it’s so worth it if you put yourself in the
correct mindset.  You can’t go into it thinking, ‘Oh, I’m just gonna
throw dinner together real quick.’  No.  You need to put on your Italian
Grandma pants and take your sweet time, savoring every second of the
task.  (Note: you don’t really need special pants for this recipe, it
was just a figure of speech.)

I made up this recipe
last week, on the fly, while watching the Davidson vs. Marquette game.
And I use the word ‘watching’ very loosely because, like I mentioned
above, I had my Italian Grandma pants on and they wouldn’t let me get
away.  These gnocchi are really yummy, I’m very proud of them, and
although I’m disappointed that I didn’t get to watch more of the game,
I’m kinda OK with it because I got a great recipe out of it.

I
do feel the need to add this though:  I don’t feel the need to put the
lines on my gnocchi like you’re always told to do, using one of those
tools or a fork.  I just don’t feel it’s necessary.  I know it holds
more sauce with the lines, just as a penne rigate does, but not enough
(in my opinion) to go through the trouble to do it.  It doesn’t change
the flavor, takes up more time than needed, and I actually kinda like
the way mine look without them…like little doll pillows.

So I guess this means the truth is out:  I’m not really Italian.  (Please don’t tell the pants.)

*Parsnip Goat Cheese Gnocchi
(recipe makes 6-8 servings)

-Peel and dice 1 1/2 lbs of parsnips and 1 1/2 lbs of baking potatoes.  Place in a large pot, salt well,
and add about an inch of water (you don’t want to submerge them, you
just need enough to create steam to cook them.  I do this so you don’t
end up losing all the nutritional value in the boiling water.)  Bring to
a boil and cook til fork tender, roughly 15 minutes.  Drain and allow
to cool a bit.

-Fill the same large pot with water
and bring to a boil for cooking the gnocchi after you make them.  Salt
it liberally once it comes to a boil.

-Run the
veggies through a ricer into a large bowl. (Don’t use a food processor!
The mixture will be gummy.  Use a fork if you don’t have a ricer or
food mill.)  Add in the following ingredients:
-2 eggs
-4 ounces crumbled chevre (young goat cheese)
-roughly 1 cup of flour
(I used spelt for health reasons and usually use whole wheat pastry
flour, but plain old white, all purpose, flour is fine.  And you can
always add more flour, but can never take it away, so start with 1/2 a
cup and add more if the dough is too sticky…)
-lots of freshly grated nutmeg

-Mix
together with a fork until it comes together to form a dough, adding
more flour as needed.  Do not over-mix or your gnocchi will come out
gummy.

-Turn the dough onto a well floured work surface and separate the dough into
about 8-10 sections.  Working in batches, shape each section into a
long log and, using a very sharp, floured knife, slice off inch sized
pieces and toss the pieces in some of the flour to prevent stickage.

-Once you have all your gnocchi sliced and well-floured, you’re ready to cook them.

-Drop the gnocchi, piece by piece, into the boiling water and wait for them to rise to the top.

-Once
they’ve rise, continue to cook them for another minute before removing
with a slotted spoon or spider and placing them on a lightly greased
cookie sheet.  You will need to do this in batches. Because of the size
of my pot, I did them in 4 batches.  (It’s important to drop them one by
one into the boiling water and to not over crowd the pot or else you
will end up with one big gnocchi clump.)

-And don’t try
to go do something while these are boiling, it happens faster than you
would think.  I left the room during the end of the Davidson game and
left them boiling for too long, only to come back and find this:

My meticulously crafted gnocchi! Ugh..  At least this was the last batch.

-Once
all your gnocchi have been cooked and are cooling on lightly greased
cookie sheets, then you can stop now to freeze them directly on the
pans, then transfer them to a freezer bag once hard.  Or you can
refrigerate them on the cookie sheets, covered in plastic wrap to toss
with your sauce of choice later in the day.  Or just do what I did and
serve them as a side item…

-Heat your largest skillet on medium-high heat with 2 TB of unsalted butter.  Allow the butter to brown and drizzle a bit of olive oil
to cool it off before it burns.  Add all your gnocchi to the butter/oil
mixture and make sure it’s all in one layer in the pan.  Allow the
gnocchi to brown a bit (about a minute or so) before shaking the pan and
browning on the other sides.

-Do this until you get nice, golden brown gnocchi.  You can add more nutmeg at this point if you’d like, more salt if yours aren’t salty enough, and even a pinch of sugar to bring out the sweetness of the parsnips.

-Garnish with fresh parsley and serve warm.

(For my other gnocchi recipes, try Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Italian Sausage and Baby Peas, Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Leeks and Tarragon Cream, and Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Braised Collard Greens and Sausage.)

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