Gnocchi party ~ Ham Pie Sandwiches

25 August 2007

Gnocchi party

The other night I went to a goodbye dinner. Dinner was a massive, totally delicious lasagna. Eight people were eating and still we had something like a third of it left over. It was supremely satisfying, and provided needed ballast for the continuing evening.

So I kind of wanted more lasagna. In fact I had been wanting some sort of giant pasta combination for about a week, and continue to do so. I am so going to Osteria in the near future. I must have a gigantic plate of pappardelle with bolognese sauce from some source. In the meantime, I still wanted more! Immediate more! Lasagna is a large and awkward pasta, however, and I was already buying a pretty full backpack's worth of stuff. Fortunately, our pantry contained an alternative: gnocchi.

This stuff will get all the pans in the house dirty, but it's worth it. It's also really versatile, and can take practically any vegetable you want to throw at it. In this case I wanted spinach and tomato. In the future I will probably add zucchini and eggplant at least. Fresh basil would also be a good plan.

Baked gnocchi

potato gnocchi, premade or homemade
olive oil
a hot red pepper
half a red bell pepper
three good tomatoes
dry vermouth
ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan
salt, pepper, basil, sage, cayenne

Chop up your garlic, hot pepper, and bell pepper; sauté them in some olive oil with basil, cayenne, and a little sage. Oregano is always a good idea, but all we had left was a tiny smudge of powder, so that was out. Soften everything up while you chop up some good tomatoes. Because it was indulgent day, I was actually cooking with real tomatoes as opposed to just eating them outright. This was a good idea.

Add the tomatoes and some vermouth to the pan. Salt and pepper. While everything is reducing, wash, stem, and chop most of a bunch of spinach. Boil and drain the gnocchi; they're done when they come to the surface of the water.

When your tomatoes have reduced, the sauce in the pan will be really liquid. You can either reduce it more or just use it as-is; the gnocchi will suck up lots of tomato juice in the oven. Add your spinach to the sauce and stir until it's wilted. Then add the gnocchi and mix everything up well.

Take the pan off the heat. If there are any non-dairy people at your house, now is the time to separate out portions for different pans or whatever. You can also clearly just eat things at this point instead of baking them. I wanted cheese, however.

Once your pan has cooled slightly, so as not to break the dairy, add several spoonfuls of ricotta. You can add shredded mozzarella here, too, if you want the interior to be especially goopy. Stir it all up and turn it into a baking dish. Then spread lots of shredded mozzarella and parmesan cheese over the top.

Bake it. I used a fairly slow oven, since I wanted the gnocchi to have time to absorb as much juice as possible. Start at about 325 or 350F and reduce heat if the top crisps too soon. It took maybe a half hour for ours to be done.

Now eat it. Have red wine. Have the rest of the spinach in a salad. Have a loaf of bread to mop the bits of tomato juice and oil off your plate.

Don't you like how the most delicious food looks the least pretty? I love it. I can't possibly make these pictures pretty, and I don't care! Eat it! It is delicious!

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