Saturday, January 15, 2011

Potato Gnocchi with Roasted Tomatoes and Gorgonzola Cream

Late last fall I had the opportunity to see Chef Tom Douglas do a cooking demonstration in Minneapolis as part of the Macy's Culinary Council. He's a great chef and owns multiple restaurants in the Seattle area so I was excited to see him and also participate in my first chef demo. I really enjoyed his presentation and ended up buying one of his cookbooks titled "Seattle Kitchen" that features many of the recipes from his restaurants.

It took me awhile before I got around to reading through the whole book, but the recipes look great and I'm excited to cook my way through a few of them. This first recipe had me at just the title. Doesn't it just sound great? Gnocchi got me because I've been seeing it in posts pretty frequently lately and had wanted to give it a try. I've always loved anything with roasted tomatoes and the great flavor they add to pasta dishes and finally, anyone that knows me, knows that I'll take anything with a good gorgonzola. So I definitely felt like it would be a good foray into the world of Tom Douglas and I certainly wasn't disappointed. The gnocchi were light and fluffy and a fun new technique I enjoyed learning. The roasted tomatoes provide a deep rich flavor and then the drizzled gorgonzola cream adds that bite that finishes the dish off perfectly.

Potato Gnocchi with Roasted Tomatoes and Gorgonzola Cream
from Tom Douglas' Seattle Kitchen

1 lb. russett potatoes
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
1 large egg
3/4 cup to 1 cup all-purpose flour

Roasted Tomatoes
1 pint cherry tomatoes, stemmed and cut in half
4 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Gorgonzola Cream
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 ounces Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Bake the potatoes until very soft, about 1 hour. Remove from the oven. While the potatoes are still hot, split them in half  and use a large spoon to scoop the potato from the skins. Pass the potato pulp through a food mill or a potato ricer. While the potato is still warm, make the dough. Add the butter, salt, and pepper and mix together with a rubber spatula until the butter melts. Mix in the egg with the spatula. Gradually add the flour, starting with the smaller amount and adding only as much flour as necessary to make a soft dough.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. If the dough seems too sticky, work in a little more flour, kneading gently with your hands. Shape the dough into a rough rectangle about 2 inches thick and cut the rectangle lengthwise into 4 ropes, using a floured metal board scraper or a floured knife. Gently roll each rope on the floured board until it is about 12 inches long, 3/4 inch wide and 3/4 inch thick. Cut each rope into 3/4 inch segments. Place the gnocchi on baking sheets lined with floured parchment paper or waxed paper.

Roasted Tomatoes
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Put the tomatoes in a bowl and toss them with the olive oil and the salt and pepper. Arrange the tomatoes cut sides up, on a rack over a baking sheet. Place the pan in the oven and roast until the tomatoes look plumped and slightly browned on the cut edges, about 40 minutes. Remove them from the oven and set aside.

Gorgonzola Cream
Bring the heavy cream to a low boil in a small saucepan and reduce it by one third. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the Gorgonzola. Season to taste with pepper. Set aside.

Final Preparation
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh basil

Set a large pot of salted water over high heat and bring to a boil. Add the gnocchi to the boiling water and boil them until they are cooked through. After the gnocchi float to the top of the water, they will need to cook another 2 or 3 minutes, for a total cooking time of 5 to 6 minutes. Meanwhile, set a large saute pan over low heat and  and gently warm the olive oil and garlic together for a few minutes. Add the roasted tomatoes and turn off the heat. When the gnocchi and cooked, skim them out of the water with a slotted spoon and add them to the pan of tomatoes. Add the pine nuts and basil and toss everything gently together with a rubber spatula.

Divide the gnocchi among 4 plates. Drizzle each serving with some of the Gorgonzola cream.


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