Brown Butter Shells w/ Sausage & Pecorino

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The recipe inspiration here was from Blue Apron – but we did switch it up just a tad, but I feel I should give them appropriate credit. It was yum. This is a quick and easy recipe that tastes like it took longer than it did. Its become a staple in our house, even our little one will eat it! ūüôā Hope you enjoy.

INGREDIENTS:

  • Italian sausage – 1/2 lb already ground or approx 3-4 Italian sausage links (removed from their casings)
  • ¬†1.5 cups fresh peas or can use frozen
  • 1/2 cup Pecorino cheese
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 1.5 tbsp dried ground/rubbed sage
  • 1/2 tbsp fresh chopped garlic
  • 8 oz orecchiette or shell pasta

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Heat large pot of water to boiling and cook pasta until al dente
  2. Meanwhile in larger skillet (ensure at least 2. inches deep) heat 4 tbsp of butter (or a bit more if you like) over medium high heat
  3. When butter begins to foam, add in sausage and begin to cook until browned. Breaking up sausage with back of wooden spoon – into little bits.
  4. Add garlic and continue cooking.
  5. When pasta is finished, reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water and strain off the rest. Set aside.
  6. When sausage is almost finished cooking (only a few spots of pink left), add in the sage and cook until sausage is completely cooked through.
  7. Add in peas and the cooked pasta.
  8. Stir together.
  9. Reduce heat to medium/low.
  10. Add in 2 tbsp of pasta water, scraping the bottom of the pan to get up any brown bits. The water should help start to make a sauce.
  11. Add in another 2 tbsp of pasta water and stir.
  12. Add in pecorino cheese, a pinch of salt and a couple of pinches of black pepper.
  13. If the sauce is too thick – add in another tbsp of pasta water at a time, stir in between to ensure you don’t add too much water – you want there to be a coating…but not soupy.
  14. Remove from heat and serve!
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boiling pasta

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cooking Italian sausage

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added sage and garlic

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adding peas

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adding pasta

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adding cheese

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mixing and adding salt/pepper

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LOOK at this FACE. Loving his pasta. ūüôā¬†

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Southwest Pizza

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Sometimes I want pizza, but I want to also cook and not feel as¬†bad for ordering¬†delivery. I used to work at a pizza restaurant in high school, so making my own pizza not only brings back memories, but its fun and cheaper! Now, I aint gonna lie – this¬†is definitely more work than hitting up papajohns.com, but it tastes¬†SO. MUCH.BETTER. Don’t fret,¬†I didn’t make¬†it all from scratch – there are some ‘pre-made’ items in the ingredients list that help¬†shorten the process. My kiddo is too little to help right now, but I think making pizza at home will be/would be a fun activity as well. So here we go…

Ingredients:

  • Boboli pizza crust – original
  • Jar of pizza sauce – whatever you prefer, I went w/ a local brand
  • 1 medium chicken breast
  • 4 – 5 slices of bacon
  • 1/2 cup chopped red pepper
  • 1 cup canned corn
  • 2 cups shredded mozz cheese
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped basil
  • 2 tbsp EVOO
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • salt
  • pepper

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees
  2. Cook bacon in oven to desired temperature/crispiness. I usually place on a foil-lined pan and turn it about every 3-4 minutes to ensure it doesn’t burn too much on one side. Usually takes 10 min or so for 4 slices at 450 degrees. Take out of oven and place on plate lined /w paper towels.
  3. Pat chicken breast dry and sprinkle lightly w/ salt and pepper
  4. Heat EVOO and balsamic over medium heat – add chicken breast to pan. Cover.
  5. Flip chicken at about 4 minutes. The vinegar will want to burn off and stick to the pan, add in water about 2 tbsp at a time to ensure there is always liquid in the bottom of the pan. Cover again.
  6. Let chicken cook another 4-5 minutes, adding water to ensure the vinegar doesn’t burn or stick. Cover again.
  7. Once chicken is cooked through, pull from pan onto cutting board and let rest for 5 min.
  8. Slice chicken thinly.
  9. Chop bacon into small pieces
  10. To assemble pizza, start with the crust on a pizza pan
  11. Spread pizza sauce to within 3/4 inch of the edge
  12. Sprinkle with 1 cup mozzarella cheese
  13. Layer chicken onto the mozzarella cheese
  14. Sprinkle red peppers over the pizza next
  15. Next layer on corn, and bacon
  16. Lastly cover with remaining cup mozzarella cheese and cheddar cheese (can use less as you finalize the pizza)
  17. Put into oven and back for approx 12-14 minutes. Checking to ensure crust is a golden brown.
  18. Pull from oven and sprinkle with chopped basil
  19. Serve!

 

Ridiculously Easy “Cheater” Lasagna

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For¬†anyone who doesn’t yet know…I am pregnant again. #2 – baby girl – comin’ in hot!! So take advantage of my recipes posted¬†between now and then because I’m headed to another dark hole of ‘taking care of a tiny human’ time suck…and may never cook again. When I come out the other side it’ll be a huge accomplishment to boil water. No, for real – ¬†moms amirite?

BUT, this baby has me craving absolutely nothing¬†healthy so of course I indulge her highness¬†as much as I can without massive amounts of guilt. She wants Mexican or Italian – these are my craving genres for baby round 2. So,¬†the other day for NO reason whatsoever, lasagna popped into my head and sounded UH-MAZ-ING. But doing a real deal lasagna¬†can take¬†forever (boiling noodles and making home-made sauce), so I did ‘cheater lasagna’ and…holy lord¬†it was so good. Sometimes when you¬†take a cooking¬†short-cut¬†it will taste¬†bland or just ‘eh’,¬†but this was really surprisingly delish!¬†Um…why would I do the 4 hour bolognese sauce and boil noodles ever again? This was LEGIT.

This makes 1 large casserole pan full of lasagna – so 2 meals for a family of 4 probably – with maybe leftovers. My pan is a bit larger than 9×13 and its pretty deep – make sure its at least 3 inches deep if not more. Leaves¬†room for the lasagna to expand.

Time Р1 hour 5 minutes including cooling time (25 min prep, 25 minutes cooking, 15 min rest, but I usually let rest at least 20 min)

Calories – 4 Billion, but this honey badger don’t give a F*CK. This was SO worth it. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 1 package oven-ready lasagna – I use Barilla oven-ready noodles
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 small white onion
  • 1 tbsp EVOO
  • 2 – 24oz jars tomato sauce –¬†I bought marinara, Paul Newman brand
  • 2 tsp garlic ¬†– I use pre-minced, less work and time
  • 2 – 24oz containers light cottage cheese
  • 4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese – or you can buy an Italian mix if you prefer
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup freshly chopped parsley (can use dried if¬†that’s easier)
  • 1/4 cup freshly chopped basil (can use dried if that’s easier)
  • Salt
  • Ground pepper

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Heat EVOO in deep skillet/sauté pan over medium high heat
  3. Add onions and ground beef Рcook, stirring and breaking up big beef chunks, until beef is cooked about half way (half the beef should still be red/pink)
  4. Add garlic and pinch of S&P, and continue cooking beef until all browned and broken down into small bits
  5. Pour off grease from pan – return to stove
  6. Add in both jars of marinara sauce Рcover and simmer on low until step 8
  7. In mixing bowl dump both cottage cheese containers, 2 pinches of salt, 2 pinches of pepper, parsley, eggs and 2 cups of shredded cheese. Mix well.
  8. In large casserole pan, spoon about 3 big serving spoon fulls of marinara sauce, enough to lightly cover the bottom of the pan
  9. Next – layer on 5 sheets of the oven ready lasagna. I put 4 sheets closely ovelapping each other on the left side of the pan (images help here), and then for the open spaces on the right (where I could still see sauce), I split the pasta sheet in half lengthwise to cover up the rest of the red sauce. This does¬†NOT have to be perfect. If you break the sheet¬†into 4 pieces on accident, just use the pasta sheet bits to cover up the sauce best you can. It’ll all work out. Promise
  10. Next add another 3 or so spoon fulls of marinara sauce to cover the noodles
  11. Next add half of the cheese mixture to cover the sauce
  12. Repeat step 9 Рadding pasta sheets to the pan. But this time Р move the cleaner layered noodles to the other side of the pan (for me this is the right side of the pan now), so the remaining areas where you can see red sauce (on the left side of the pan now) are opposite from where they were on layer 1. This just helps it hold together better.
  13. Add 3 more spoon fulls of sauce – or enough to cover the noodles
  14. Add the remaining cheese mixture to cover up the marinara sauce
  15. Add the remaining  red sauce to cover the cheese mix
  16. Top with the remaining 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  17. Place in oven for 25 minutes (I recommend placing on a sheet pan/cookie sheet in case it boils over). Do not cover.
  18. Pull from oven(make sure corners are bubbling). Turn oven off and top lasagna with chopped basil
    • Let the lasagna cool for¬†at least¬†15 minutes minimum. Lasagna will¬†be SUPER messy if its still hot, and it holds heat for a long time. Its easier to serve if its cooler. I regularly¬†wait 20 minutes¬†if not longer.

*You can make a day ahead (like on a weekend) and just cut out pieces at dinner time to microwave to save time on weeknights.  *You can do all the prep and not bake until the day of eating. Just make sure you cook it about 45 minutes or bubbly because it will have been fully cooled in the fridge. *You can also make ahead (bake or no bake) and freeze.

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Oven ready noodles I prefer

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step 3 – cooking beef, onions, garlic, S&P

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step 6 – adding in marinara sauce to beef

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step 7 – making cheese mixture

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step 8 – marinara sauce in bottom of pan

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step 9 – adding noodles on top of bottom sauce layer

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step 10 – covering pasta layer #1 with sauce

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step 11 – covering sauce w/ cheese mixture

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step 15 – adding remaining sauce to final sauce layer

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step 16 – topping w/ 2 cups shredded mozz cheese

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step 18 – cooling lasagna!

Arancini (Fried Risotto Balls)- Cooking Class

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So arancini are fried risotto balls. Italians are freaking smart. When they have leftover risotto, they let it chill, then stuff it and fry it. Here’s my big question – WHAT is leftover risotto? I never have leftover risotto since I usually scarf it down like a wild animal. Well played Italians, well played.

The first arancini I ever tried was this one. I had it at Bella Napoli, where Alex Staab used to be the head chef. He now teaches cooking classes and I asked him to teach us this recipe. I have tried arancini at a variety of local KC restaurants and even tried them in other cities across the US. Since my first taste a few years ago, NONE have lived up to this one. Now I can do it at home in my own kitchen! They are a great appetizer for any meal, or could even be a meal themselves. Maybe pair them with a nice lemon/oil/arugula salad. They are very filling, and I would make sure you do have enough sauce since the tomato sauce just makes these pop with flavor. Buon appetito! 

Arancini: (feeds 10-12)

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz arborio rice
  • 1 onion diced very fine
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 12 oz tomato sauce, divided (choose whatever tomato sauce you like, canned, jarred, your recipe…)
  • 1-1/2 cups of parmigiano cheese
  • 2 balls of mozzarella
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 can of tomato paste (small can)
  • 1 bag of frozen peas
  • 3 eggs for a egg wash
  • 2 cups bread crumbs
  • olive oil
  • 4 qts chicken stock

Directions:

  1. In a large saucepan, heat the chicken stock so it is very hot, but not simmering or boiling
  2. In a large pot melt the butter and cook half of the onion till translucent.
  3. Once the onions are cooked, add the rice and brown the rice for an additional 4-5 minutes.
  4. Add the wine to the rice and cook until the rice absorbs most of the liquid.
  5. Add stock to the rice, just enough to cover the rice and continue to stir.
  6. Once the stock is absorbed add more and repeat the process till the rice is cooked.
  7. When the rice is cooked, add 6 oz of tomato sauce and cheese and stir to combine.
  8. Spread the rice on a sheet pan and let cool. This is usually a step that should be done a day beforehand so the rice can set in the fridge and be cool for making the balls. If you need to make the balls the same day, put the rice in the freezer for about 1 hour or so to cool.
  9. In another saute pan, add 3 tbsp of olive oil and cook the remaining onions.
  10. When the onions are cooked, add the ground beef and cook through.
  11. Next, add the can of tomato paste and fill the can with water and add that as well.
  12. Continue to cook for a minute or two then add the peas.
  13. Remove from the heat and let cool.
  14. Whisk 3 eggs together in a medium sized mixing bowl
  15. In another bowl pour the 2 cups of bread crumbs.
  16. Place enough of the cooled risotto to fit in the palm of your hand. Next place a quarter size chunk of mozzarella and a then a spoonful of the meat and pea mixture.
  17. Close the rice around the meat and mozzarella adding any patches of risotto to ensure no filling is showing. Compress the ball tightly to ensure the mixture is covered completely w/ risotto. Be sure to keep these about the same size as a tennis ball.
  18. Place the ball in the egg wash and gently roll it until completely covered, then right after, gently roll in bread crumbs. Place in tray as you complete the process for the rest of the balls.
  19. Once they are have been breaded, heat oil in pan or deep fryer at at 315 degrees.
  20. Fry them until golden brown. If needed, complete the cooking process in the oven. (Sometimes if the balls are too large, the fryer cannot heat them all the way. Test one to ensure the fryer process will work, if the balls aren’t headed the whole way through, finish in a 350 degree oven for about 7 minutes.
  21. Ladle the remaining 6 oz of tomato sauce into a deep dish or trey.
  22. Place risotto balls on top of the sauce and serve warm.
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Step 1 & 2: Adding butter to onion and browning the rice

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Step 4 – Adding wine and letting reduce

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Step 8 – spreading risotto onto sheet pan to let cool in thin layer

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Pork, beef, veal & vegetables – frozen peas & carrots

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Step 9 – Cooking onions for risotto stuffing

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Step 10 – Adding beef to onion mixture

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Me! I’m stirring the risotto mixture – cooking the beef & onion

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Our professional NFL blogger – Joel Thorman, posing as he stirs the risotto mixture

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Step 12 – Adding frozen peas

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Step 14: Creating egg wash

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Step 15: Creating bowl for bread crumb dredging

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Step 16: Starting risotto balls with palm-full of risotto and mozz cheese

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Step 16 – Adding meat/peas mixture to the cheese within the risotto ball

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Step 17 – Starting to fold up the risotto ball

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My turn! I am trying it for the first time!

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Risotto ball assembly line!

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Risotto balls post egg wash and bread crumbs

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Step 19 – Heating oil to approx 315 degrees

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Step 20 – Frying rice balls

Fresh Pasta – Cooking Class

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Here is another post brought to you from the MKA kitchen cooking class held by Alex Staub. We did a class about a month ago where we learned to make¬†two sauces and how to make gnocchi. These classes are the best I have been to. Many cooking classes are very structured with little ‘hands on’ time, but this is not that class. This environment is very fun – its like a party at your house where you all step in and cook together, very laid back, the recipes are delicious, hosted by a fabulous professional chef…and ALL that plus wine! They are even husband approved. ūüôā

My close friend Rebecca and I decided the menu for this class based on dishes we previously tried at Alex’s former chef role at Bella Napoli (cucina Italiana). He has the best bolognese recipe, his arancini (fried risotto balls) are to DIE for, and of course the fresh made pasta is the vessel for so many of his other yummy sauces.

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The hubs and I enjoying the class

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Everyone getting ready to make pasta!!

You’ll definitely wow everyone at your dinner table with these recipes. Enjoy!

Fresh Pasta Р serves approx 4 people

Ingredients:

  • 3 oz semolina flour.
  • 5 oz ‚Äú00‚ÄĚ flour.
  • 10 egg yolks.
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil.
  • 3 tbsp water.

Directions:

  1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl until all ingredients are incorporated and a dough begins to form.
  2. Remove from bowl and knead dough on hard surface until smooth and no longer sticky.
  3. End dough results will be a very firm texture.
  4. Wrap in plastic wrap tightly. Let rest at room temperature for 30 min.
  5. Roll and shape. Click here to get the fully skinny on rolling and shaping pasta by hand. You can also use a pasta machine, if you have one then this link is better for you.
  6. Place in boiling water for 3-4 min depending on thickness. Cook until al dente – which means to ensure its not cooked all the way. The pasta will finish cooking when it is placed into a sauce pan and cooks a bit longer. If you plan to just top with sauce immediately, cook pasta until it is fully soft (not al dente).
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Step 1 – mixing all ingredients in bowl

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Step 1 – Dough starting to form

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Step 1 – The line-up of pasta dough makers

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Step 5 – Rolling and shaping the pasts. Start by rolling into long sheets

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Step 5- Rolling & shaping pasta. Rolling square sheets over and over through pasta machine

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Step 5- Rolling & Shaping Pasta. We made tagliatelle pasta.

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Step 6 – Finishing pasta in bolognese sauce

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Final product! Bolognese sauce w/ tagliatelle pasta

Homemade Gnocci – Cooking Class

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 A few years ago my husband and I were introduced to Chef Alex Staab who at the time was the head chef at Bella Napoli Italian restaurant in Kansas City. This is a neighborhood restaurant that we frequent often as their food is simple, classic, and unpretentious. Comforting just as Italian food should be.

Alex is now in the process of opening his own restaurant, and in the meantime is teaching local cooking classes in Kansas City. The commercial kitchen space Alex uses for these classes is the MKA kitchen which is a professional culinary group that focuses on menu development for a variety of retailers and restaurants across the globe. Amazing amounts of talent cook here and I was thrilled to be even a tiny part of it. If you are interested in taking any KC cooking classes, visit Eventbrite and search for classes under his name.

We went to the gnocchi class on a Friday night with two close friends, and this was by far the best class I’ve been to. It was $50 per person for a 3 hour class which included lots of wine, 4 recipes, dinner, hands-on experience and we met a lot of really nice people. In addition to learning how to make gnocchi – a potato based pasta – we learned recipes for¬†bruschetta, and two sauces (brown butter sage¬†&¬†creamy mushroom & cauliflower) to accompany the gnocchi.

Gnocchi, when prepared correctly, has a light and creamy texture…while still being firm like a pasta. Often I’ve had gnocchi and its heavy and dense – nope nope nope. That is not how gnocchi should be, and if you’ve had it that way, please pay close attention to this SUPER easy recipe so you’ll never eat gnocchi that way again!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 russet potatoes (2 lbs total)
  • 2/3 lb of ’00’ flower. This flour is¬†extra¬†fine.¬†Le 5 Stagioni¬†is the type we used.¬†
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 egg yolk

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Place potatoes with skin in a pot of cold salted water.
  2. Bring to a boil and continue until they are fork tender.
  3. Once tender, remove from water and peel. Be careful, they are warm…but do this while the potatoes are warm.
  4. Run potatoes through a potato ricer and form into a small pile
  5. Make a well in the center of the pile and drop in the egg and egg yolk
  6. Sprinkle flower across entire pile and the well where the eggs are resting
  7. Begin to fold the potatoes, the flour, and eggs to start to form a dough. Again, this will still be warm so be careful! Add more flour if the dough is too wet, or a bit of water if the dough is too dry. Dough should be smooth and slightly sticky – like play dough, not mashed potatoes.
  8. Slice a 2 inch piece of dough off of the larger dough ball.
  9. Place flour on your work surface and roll with both hands into long 1/4 inch ropes, and then slice into 1 inch size pieces
  10. Place the pieces on a floured cookie sheet until you have completed the entire dough ball
  11. Once all dough is formed into 1 inch pieces, take them one by one and roll them onto the back of a fork or using a gnocchi board.
    • The goal is to indent texture onto the gnocchi so they hold the sauce better. Don’t be hard on yourself here, there is no perfect gnocchi – as long as it has texture…you are good to go.
  12. Once you have impressed texture to all of the gnocchi, put them into boiling water until they float to the top of the water’s surface.
  13. Once the gnocchi are done floating to the top, strain them out with a hand strainer.
  14. At this point you can either put them directly into the sauce you’ve prepared and serve immediately – OR you can cool them to serve later that day, or later in the week. If you choose to not use them immediately, place them on a clean cookie sheet, drizzle liberally with olive oil and when you are ready to cook them – follow step #12.
  15. Gnocchi can be kept in a covered container in the fridge for up to 4 days.

Potatoes just pulled from boiling water

Step 2 – peeling potatoes after they’ve cooked in boiling water

Step 3- pushing potatoes through potato ricer

Steps 5 & 6- Making well, dropping in eggs & topping with flour

Step 7 – Forming potatoes, egg & flour into dough

Step 9 – Rolling gnocchi dough into long ropes

Making a mess!

Rebecca and I rolling dough

Step 9: Slicing dough ropes into 1 inch pieces

Step 11 – using a fork

Step 11 – using a gnocchi board

Step 13- placing gnocchi into boiling water

Step 14- drizzling with oil to serve gnocchi later in the evening vs. serving immediately

Рcheck out the brown butter sauce & creamy cauliflower & mushroom sauce we also made during class

Sage Brown Butter Sauce w/ Walnuts

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 I learned this recipe by attending a gnocchi cooking class hosted by Chef Alex Staab, which is a separate entry on the blog. If you are interested in taking any classes in the KC area, visit Eventbrite and search under his name.

This brown butter sauce is unreal. Breaking down this complicated terminology (insert sarcasm here) a ‘brown butter sauce’ is where you allow the butter to brown to bring out its nutty rich flavor in a different way than it tastes raw. Sage, walnuts and Parmesan cheese are added to the family to complete this rich and savory sauce. Its so delicate, but delicious and goes perfectly with gnocchi and any other pasta you may want to toss in. I just wanted to keep dipping my spoon in it when we were allowed a taste.

Its a much easier task than it sounds, just be sure you pay close attention to the heat and the sauce so it doesn’t burn. If so it will turn quickly to a bitter mess. No fun.

Here we go…

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 tbsp of butter
  • 20 fresh sage leaves
  • 1 cup of chopped walnuts
  • Parmesan¬†cheese
  • Pasta water (this is water reserved after pasta has been cooked in it)
  • Sea salt
  • Ground pepper

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a large saute pan heat the walnuts until you smell the nutty aroma.
  2. Add butter to the pan and be sure to keep the butter moving around the pan or it will burn
  3. While the butter is melting add 15 of the sage leaves along with a pinch of salt & pepper
  4. Once the butter is brown, a light brown color, not dark brown add 4-6oz of pasta water to keep the butter from browning too much
  5. Grate the Parmesan cheese into the sauce and taste to see if S or P is needed
  6. Add the pasta or gnocchi to the pan and toss to combine
  7. Plate the pasta and garnish with more cheese and remaining sage leaves

Step 1: Toasting walnuts in large pan

Separating sage leaves from the stems

Step 2 & 3- Adding butter to pan, then adding sage

Step 4: Butter beginning to brown – next add pasta water

Step 6- Adding gnocchi to pan

Rebecca likes cheese, so she took over the garnishing of the gnocchi

FINAL PRODUCT!