Saturday, August 7, 2010

Oh' Gnocchi Didn't!!!

With the hectic-ness of summer-time and trying to do all those extracurricular activities, it is sometimes hard to want to stay in the kitchen and cook. One way to cut down your kitchen time is with fresh pasta. It can often be found in the refrigerated area of most grocery stores. It is much tastier than in-the-box dried pasta and it cooks in about a third of the time. One of my favorite pasta’s is gnocchi. In the past few months it has become a staple in my pantry, which in fact you may have read a previous post or two of mine where I have also talked about it. It is a potato-based dumpling-like pasta, and when cooked correctly, it is light and fluffy with the slightest bit of chewy texture. When over -cooked however, anyone could easily grow to dislike it; it tends to be really chewy and can become tough and doughy.

One cool thing about gnocchi is it is a fresh pasta that does not have to be refrigerated. Though you can find it sometimes in specialty shops in the fridge areas, it usually is with the dry pasta. The other great thing is a package of un-refrigerated gnocchi has a good shelf life of atleast several months (if not longer), plus it cooks in only 2-4 minutes. Like any pasta you can dress it up with a marinara sauce, a creamy sauce or even toss it with a little olive oil or butter and some fresh herbs and have a delicious pasta dish in less than 20 minutes. But, what I love the most is its dumpling -like texture which makes it a more filling and hardy pasta than just your typical spaghetti.

What spurred the idea for this gnocchi recipe (in the next post) was, I had amazing fresh pasta the other day at a little food truck in Seattle called Skillet. The dish was a homemade paperdelle pasta (think fettuccini, but about three times wider) with fresh basil and golden beets. First off, I have never liked beets, because the only way I have ever known them is pickled in a can, blech… But this dish was fresh al’ dente pasta, with a delicious herbed cream sauce and plenty of fresh veggies. The beets had a mildly sweet and earthy flavor with a texture almost like that of a firm cooked carrot. I actually had no idea there were golden beets until I saw them on the menu. I can say though that I would defeintly eat them again.

When I was at the farmers market the other day (my new favorite place for produce) I saw bundles of fresh red beets and decided to give them another shot. I roasted them in the oven earlier in the day, then when it was time for dinner, I added them to a few tablespoons of melted butter seasoned with salt and pepper, then tossed them with gnocchi, fresh basil and goat cheese. Oh my goodness! It was so simple, yet amazingly delicious!!! Brandon (my husband) gobbled it down before I was even close to finishing mine, which is a great sign (he is very critical of my cooking, which challenges me to constantly grow). If you are as pessimistic about beets as I was, or if you already love them, I highly recommend trying them with fresh pasta or even as a side with a little salt and pepper. Even if you don’t eat the beats, at least try the gnocchi, you will not be disappointed. Here’s to more happy eating! Your foodie friend, Rachel :)

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