Happy belated Canada Day to my fellow Canadians! Like many if not most Canadians, I enjoyed a day off Wednesday in honour of our nation's birth.
I thought it would be a perfect day to spend in the kitchen, and so I did. By day's end, I had made focaccia, brownies, and homemade potato gnocchi.
It was my first time making potato gnocchi, and while it was definitely time consuming, it was so worth it. I think there's very little that you can create in the kitchen that will make you feel as accomplished as when you make your own pasta.
Especially if you drizzle that pasta in a simply but elegant pecorino cream sauce. So how did it all come together?
First I boiled a few potatoes until they were tender, but not mushy. Then I used my nana's potato ricer, given to me by my mother, to crush the potatoes into smithereens. I mean, to squeeze them into delicate strings.
It felt great to be using kitchen equipment that belonged to my Nana. She died over 10 years ago, and whenever I use something that belongs to her it makes me feel connected to her still.
So after the potatoes were sufficiently obliterated (thanks, Nana), I mixed them with flour, ricotta, egg, parmesan, salt, pepper, and freshly grated nutmeg. The dough was tasty but still neutral-flavoured, ready to be rolled out, cut, and coated in the type of sauce that makes your mouth water.
While I cooked the fresh gnocchi for about 5 minutes, I heated heavy cream in a saucepan and then melted in an equal amount of grated pecorino cheese, then seasoned the sauce with a generous sprinkle of black pepper and a bit of salt.
The sauce was rich, so just a bit of it went a long way. At the same time, I appreciated that the sauce didn't have any butter - typical alfredo-style sauces do, so it was a bit lighter in calories than your average cream sauce. I loved how the sharp pecorino and pepper were carried by the mildly flavoured gnocchi. And I especially loved that the sauce was easy and quick to make, but so elegant and tasty.
This recipe makes enough for four servings of pasta, but if you're a smaller household like me, you can freeze the rest of the gnocchi to enjoy later.
The gnocchi recipe is from Canadian chef Anthony Sedlak.
Potato Gnocchi with Pecorino Cream Sauce
1 1/2 pounds baking potatoes (like Russet)
1 x egg
1/4 cup ricotta
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cup flour, plus more for dusting
Pinch grated nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste
Pecorino Cream Sauce
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1. Add whole potatoes to a medium pot and fill with cold water just to cover. Season cooking water with salt and bring to a boil; lower heat and simmer until potatoes are tender but not overcooked (this could take 20 or more minutes - I recommend checking every 5 minutes after the 10 minute mark). Drain potatoes and let dry out slightly. While still warm, peel skin off potatoes, cut into quarters, and push through a ricer or food mill. Gently combine riced potatoes with remaining ingredients, being careful not to overmix. On a floured board, divide dough into six pieces and roll each piece into a ¾ inch thick log. Cut each log into ½ inch long pieces. If desired, roll each piece on the back of a fork to create ridges. Lay out cut pieces on a lightly floured tray. To cook, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Boil in batches, dropping in a few at a time; gnocchi are ready when they float to the surface (approximately 5 minutes). Remove with a slotted spoon and place on plates.
Pecorino Cream Sauce
1. Bring cream to simmer in a frying pan over medium-low heat. Add Pecorino, stirring until melted. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Drizzle sauce over plated pasta.