Regardless of my away-sickness (I don't know if that's what you call the opposite of homesick; I am going with it), it was time to get back in my own kitchen and make something... anything. I really missed cooking while I was gone!
With a quiet night at home, I figured it was a good chance to try out some comfort food. For me, pasta is comfort. It's warm, easy, quick and goes with almost anything. However, boiling some pre-made pasta would have made a pretty boring blog post so I stepped it up a notch and had my first attempt at making gnocchi.
Gnocchi is not really a pasta, but more of a potato dumpling, but it plays the part of pasta really well. It is really easy to make and it freezes well, so you can make a big batch and save some for a day you are pressed for time. I think the only things that are tricky about gnocchi is you have to be careful with with the consistency of your dough. Too dry and it can be gummy. Too soft and it can fall apart a bit. Regular gnocchi usually has eggs in it to help bind things together. Most vegan versions use oil for the same effect.
Nutrition? Well, gnocchi is potatoes and flour mainly, so I don't know how nutritious I can make them sound. They are a treat, when you are looking for something warm and filling. They aren't really a diet food. They are also really filling, so remember, a little goes a long way. However, they do have some nutritional benefits. Potatoes are a decent source of vitamin C, vitamin B6, copper, potassium, manganese, and fibre. They also have lots of phytonutrients. All of these are good things. I think the main reason why people think potatoes are not good for is that we usually eat them as french fries and potato chips. The potato is not the problem here, it is how we are cooking it.
But, back to gnocchi. Now that I proven that potatoes are kind of good for you. Let's add lots of flour to them and make them into dinner! To make this a bit healthier and keep the comfort food vibe, I made a spinach pesto to go with my gnocchi. I took the recipe for regular pest (basil, pine nuts, garlic, oil) and switched out the main flavours for spinach and walnuts. It is a lot cheaper and to be honest, I thought it was just as good as basil pesto. Feel free to add other herbs, sun-dried tomatoes, spice.. whatever. I kept it simple.
Gnocchi with Spinach Pesto
*takes about 20 min, serves 3-4
- 2 large potatoes, baked and skinned
- 1-2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning (or other herbs if you have some)
- salt and pepper
- approx 1 1/2 cups of flour
- 1 cup of fresh spinach, lightly packed
- 1/3 cup walnuts
- 2 cloves of garlic
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup of olive oil
If you have potatoes already bakes, this will take no time at all. If not, Bake your potatoes for about 45 min at 400 F. Let them cool completely, about 30 minutes for this. Skin the potatoes and put them in a big bowl. Add the oil, herbs and salt and pepper. Mash the mixture well. It is ok for a few lumps, but they should be pretty mashed. Now, add the flour a little bit at a time. Mix it together until it starts to get the consistency of dough. You can take the dough and put it on your cutting board and add the remaining flour and kneed it until it isn't too wet, but also isn't too dry.
|Mashing the potatoes... once you add the flour it will start to look like dough|
|Two minutes later... dough!|
Now separate the dough into four pieces. Roll them out on a floured cutting board until they are about 1" ropes. Cut the ropes into 3/4 - 1" pieces. Now take the pieces, one-by-one in your hand and roll them on the back of a fork so they get little grooves in them.
|Make the ropes about 1" in diameter|
|When you are done you should have a whole bunch of little gnocchi's. Freeze them or cook right away|
Now, get your pot of water on the stove and prepare to make your pesto. Get your food processor out and add in everything except for the oil. Process everything so it is almost a paste. Now add the oil slowly and process to the consistency that you want. I like my pesto thick, so add more oil if yours is too thick. This should take just a few minutes.
|Love pesto. Through it in the food processor and sauce is made.|
|I like my pesto thick, but add more oil if you prefer it to be more, saucy|
Once your water is boiling, add the gnocchi. It will only take a couple minutes to cook. Wait for the gnocchi to start to float. When it floats, it's done. Remove it with a slotted spoon, dish it with the pesto on top and toss.
I dare you to tell me this was difficult.