In Food52 A New Way to Dinner, Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs present their fresh take on weeknight cooking and utilizing leftovers.
People think of gnocchi as a project, but in fact it’s much simpler to make gnocchi dough than it is to make cookie dough. There’s no creaming of butter, very little measuring, and gnocchi can be cooked all at once—gnocchi should get a gold star, no? I’ve doubled this batch so that it can get you through two dinners. Sometimes I’ll make a quadruple batch just so I can freeze a bunch—it’s also a good excuse for helpers. When they grow up, they can say, “In our day, we had to cut our own gnocchi and ride scooters to school.”
This recipe comes from Christina DiLaura, who was one of our earliest Food52 team members and also launched our online shop. Christina comes from a family of serious Italian cooks, and this is a family classic. I understand why—the ricotta makes the gnocchi tender, almost feathery—and it’s a recipe that once you’ve made it a few times, it’s a snap to remember.
- In a large bowl, stir together the ricotta, eggs, and oil until thoroughly combined. Stir in the Parmesan and sprinkle with nutmeg. Add the flour a little at a time and continue to stir thoroughly until the dough comes together.
- Dump the dough onto a generously floured surface and use your hands to bring it together into a smooth ball. Add more flour as needed until the dough is smooth and no longer sticks to your hands.
- Cut off slices of dough as if you were slicing a loaf of bread. With your hands flat and your fingers stretched out, roll each slice into a rope that’s as thick as your thumb. Be sure to roll from the center out to the ends of the rope.
- Line one rope parallel to another and cut both of them into 1 inch pieces. Roll each piece off the back of a fork to make imprints that will help hold the sauce.
- Transfer the gnocchi pieces to a lightly floured or nonstick baking sheet so they don’t stick together and put the sheet in the freezer while making the rest of the gnocchi. If you plan to save any gnocchi for future use, let them freeze completely on the baking sheet before storing in a freezer-friendly zipper plastic bag to prevent them from sticking together. Freeze for up to 8 weeks.
- Rinse the broccoli rabe and kale in plenty of water, then drain, letting the excess water cling to the leaves.
- Spread the pancetta in a sauté pan and cook over medium heat until the fat renders and the pancetta is crisp; you may need to lower the heat as you go. Transfer the pancetta to a paper towel–lined plate to drain.
- Pile the still-wet-from-rinsing broccoli rabe and kale into a large pot. Pour the oil over the greens and season with salt. Place over high heat and cook until the greens begin to wilt, moving them from the bottom of the pot to the top using tongs. When the greens are fully wilted and most of the liquid has cooked off (if it hasn’t, pour off all but 1⁄4 cup), add the cream and red pepper flakes and cook for 1 minute more.
- Transfer the greens to a food processor, adding about half of the creamy liquid from the pot. Puree the greens until broken down but still coarse, adding more liquid as needed; reserve any extra liquid. Add the lemon juice and crème fraîche and puree until smoother but still a little coarse. Taste and adjust the seasoning, then stir in the pancetta, if using. Store in a container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
- Bring a large stockpot of generously salted water to a boil.
- Meanwhile, warm half of the creamed kale with a splash of water in a small saucepan set over medium-low heat.
- Add half of the frozen gnocchi to the boiling water and gently stir once with a wooden spoon to create movement and prevent the gnocchi from sticking to the bottom of the pot. As the gnocchi rise to the top (a sign they are done cooking), about 5 minutes later, scoop them out with a slotted spoon. Shake off the excess water, reserving some of the pasta water for later use.
- Place the gnocchi into wide, shallow serving bowls, and alternate adding the gnocchi and the creamed kale into the bowls to eliminate the need to stir the gnocchi with the sauce, which runs the risk of damaging or smashing the pasta. Sprinkle with the reserved pasta water, if needed. Generously grate Parmesan over the top and serve.
Reprinted with permission from FOOD52 A New Way to Dinner by Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, copyright © 2016. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House. Photography credit James Ransom © 2016.