Tag Archives: pasta

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Pancetta and Sage

When Captain Crunch offered to cook us some sweet potato gnocchi before he left town, I was skeptical. I’d only had gnocchi once, in Italy no less, and it was nasty. Chewy, sticky lumps. But I trust the guy, and he didn’t let me down.

I’ve since tweaked his recipe and made my own, with the addition of some smoky mushrooms and pancetta to complement the slight sweetness of the gnocchi. Top it all off with Parmesan cheese, and you have a winner.

Many people like to combine sweet potato with sweet spices, like nutmeg and cinnamon, or maple syrup. I prefer to keep it savory– I think it’s more interesting. Additionally, this recipe calls for dried mushrooms, which are a great thing to have in the kitchen. They’re cheap, they keep forever, and when you prepare them you also get a nice mushroom broth, which can be used in other things.

The Gnocchi

1 sweet potato, well scrubbed

1/2 cup flour, or more depending on the climate

pinch of salt

Combine flour and salt in a bowl. Pierce the sweet potato with a fork and microwave until baked, perhaps five minutes. Using a fork, add the mushed flesh of the potato to the flour, discarding the skin. Mix the dough with your hands, adding just enough flour so the dough is workable. If you want to be fancy, roll the dough into a tube and cut pieces off, flattening with a fork on one end. I was feeling rustic so I just rolled the dough into teaspoon-sized balls.

Boil water, and add the gnocchi in manageable batches, stirring occasionally. The gnocchi are done when they rise to the top of the water, but make sure they aren’t stuck to the bottom. Drain in a collander, serve promptly with The Sauce and some fresh grated Parmesan.

The Sauce

1/2 cup dried mushrooms (I used oyster)

3 strips of pancetta

1/2 stick butter

1 tsp dried sage

Pour boiling water over the dried mushrooms and let sit ten minutes while you prepare the pancetta. Place pancetta in a pan and cook over medium heat until crisp. Drain off fat and wipe pan clean with a paper towel. Melt the butter in the pan over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it begins to brown. Remove from heat. Crumble the pancetta and add it to the butter with the sage. Remove the mushrooms from the liquid (which can be used as a nice broth) and pat dry with paper towels, then chop into small pieces. Add to sauce. Stir sauce and pour over gnocchi, topping with fresh Parmesan.

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Filed under Carnivorous., Meals

You Say Goodbye, I Say Hello!

Hi friends! Semester’s over. MCATS are done (hopefully). And I’ve moved into a new place with a cramped but lovely kitchen– with windows. Yep, time to start blogging again.

Tonight I’m cooking dinner for the boyfriend, who is going away for a time to work on his doctoring skills. And what better way to say “safe travels” than with vegetarian lasagna?

And not just any lasagna. The BEST lasagna. Loaded with broccoli, carrots, tomatoes, and fresh basil.

I don’t really have a lasagna recipe– more like, I know how to make it roughly and I improvise. So I will lay out a plan of attack for you here, with some ingredient suggestions, and show you how to do the layers.

You Will Need:

Sauce, either store-bought or homemade. I made my own with diced tomatoes, tomato paste, oodles of basil, oregano, salt, lots of crushed red pepper and garlic. You will need a LOT of sauce. At least a quart. Maybe more.

Noodles. Cook them until they’re just about edible. You want them tough still, but at the point where another few minutes would render them al dente.

Cheese. In two forms. First, you need a few cups of mozzarella. Then, you need a container of ricotta, with an egg and at least a cup of parmesan mixed in. You could throw some feta in there, too. I like to saute some frozen chopped spinach (just to dry it out a bit) and put that in, and some salt.

Veggies. Saute some broccoli florets, stick-thin carrots… you could use peppers, too. You want them dehydrated so they don’t make the lasagna mushy. I like also to douse them in red wine, to tie them into the dish some more.

Assembly:

Turn your oven on to 350. First, you put a little bit of sauce on the naked pan. Then you lay down a layer of noodles. I use a scissors to make sure they fit right. Then, dollops of the ricotta cheese blend. Some mozzarella if you want. Then veggies. Then sauce. Then start over with noodles– but this time, go in the other direction so your layers are perpendicular; this will keep the lasagna together. When you’re out of space, top with mozzarella. Stick it in the oven for 30-40 minutes. Then, VERY IMPORTANT: Resist the urge to jump right in while it’s hot out of the oven. The lasagna needs to sit at least 10 minutes or it will fall apart and all your beautiful layers will devolve into a mass of noodles, broccoli, and cheese…. then again, there are worse things.

Lasagna is one of my favorites because, although it takes some prep work, it serves as great leftovers for the rest of the week. Once I’ve eaten it all, though, we’ll get down to business with some thai-inspired carrot soup….

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Filed under Meals, Vegetarian.