Warning: The photos of this meal do not represent in any way how tasty this meal actually was. Sometimes, you just have to trust the chef who is still very much behind on her food styling and photography skills.
This week’s menu called for some serious grilling. It is summer and it is time to cook outside. Oh, but did I mention that it is snowing as I write this? In the middle of June? What the heck am I doing living here?
So we may have changed the menu up a bit this week on account of the unseasonable weather that we are having. As in, not grilling fish on Monday night, but replacing said fish with meatballs and spaghetti using a lovely pack of pre-seasoned meat that I had frozen from when we last made Greek meatballs. It was the perfect winter dinner. On June 16.
On Tuesday night, I was not giving up the grill. Or rather, I was not going to let my husband give up the grill. I was adamant that we were going to try gnocchi, gorgonzola, arugula, lemon & balsamic from Collards and Carbonara (page 92) and we were going to have grilled steak with it. Oh, boy. We had some serious food for dinner on Tuesday night.
This recipe has four distinct parts: the gnocchi, the cheese sauce, the arugula salad, and a balsamic reduction. I had a crazy afternoon planned on Tuesday, so made the balsamic reduction in the morning. Balsamic reduction sounds very fancy and complicated, right? Wrong. Pour some balsamic vinegar into a pot and let it boil for 15 minutes until it reduces to a quarter of the original amount. Let cool. So easy, in fact, that I completely forgot that I had made it and forgot to drizzle my lovely gnocchi with the reduction when I served dinner. Oh, well. Gnocchi, gorgonzola, arugula, and lemon was just as delicious. And now I have a nice jar of balsamic reduction waiting for me to find a use for it. How lucky.
I also made the gnocchi in advance on Tuesday. I’ve made gnocchi a couple of times but had not made this recipe. What I loved about this recipe was the specificity of direction. Two pounds of potato flesh. Potatoes that are still hot but not too hot. Fifteen shaves of fresh nutmeg. Gnocchi is somewhat intimidating to make the first time, but once you get the hang of it, it isn’t actually difficult. The key is to pay attention to the specifics of the recipe as if you were baking. Having a kitchen scale and a ricer really helps. While not difficult, gnocchi is time consuming. I can see I’m really selling it here. Intimidating. Precision. Need special equipment. Time consuming. I hear you saying, oh no. I am not making that.
But you should. Gnocchi is fun to make and it is delicious to eat. The stuff you buy in the store? It’s just not the same as fresh gnocchi. It isn’t nearly as tender as homemade. And gnocchi really is fun to make. Especially when it is snowing in June.
The sauce here is simple: cream, gorgonzola, salt, and rosemary. The dressing for the arugula is simple: lemon juice, olive oil, and salt. Cooking the gnocchi is simple: boil water, drop the gnocchi in, watch the gnocchi rise, wait three minutes, scoop it out. Now put all these simple things together and you have a bang up meal. The cheese sauce is a beautiful compliment to the light and tender gnocchi. The bite of the lemon and arugula is lovely with the tangy cheese. The nutmeg in the gnocchi gives the whole thing a lovely fullness. Oh yeah. And we had this with amazingly peppery grilled steak.
Pour yourself a nice glass of red, sit back and enjoy your dinner. Buon appetito!
P.S. If you would like yet another example of why it is good to have your kids in the kitchen helping out, let me point out that my “snake rollers” ate two servings each of gnocchi on Tuesday night WITH gorgonzola sauce. Do you know many four year-olds who eat gorgonzola?
P.P.S. Yes, my daughter is wearing a robe in the middle of the day. She may grow up to be one of those women who goes to the store in slippers and hair rollers too. Don’t judge.