Formerly Trendy Pasta

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This pasta is delicious. I mean its FREAKING good. Just believe me. I call it ‘Formerly Trendy’ pasta since its got all the major food trends that struck it hot for a short time recently: kale, bacon, butternut squash – all things that made it into a lot of new dishes and on many restaurant menus in the past two years. But…trendy or not, these ingredients are some of my favorite (minus kale which I can only eat cooked or chopped into tiny bits – I think it tastes like tree leaves might taste).

The pasta is sweet, savory, smokey, creamy, and has a tiny bit of spice from the red pepper flakes. It is one of my favorites. It reheats SO well. This recipe makes about 8 healthy portions. My mother was in town helping me with the new baby as I head back to work part-time…and we nibbled on it for lunch and dinner for a couple of days. No-one ever was tired of the pasta – which means its pretty damn good. 🙂 Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 5 cups (1/2-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 package uncooked ziti (short tube-shaped pasta)or other short tubed pasta of your preference
  • 4 cups chopped kale
  • 8 bacon slices
  • 1 large yellow onion chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided in half
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 cup light sour cream
  • 1 cup shredded Gruyère cheese

DIRECTIONS:

1. Preheat oven to 400°.

2. Combine squash and 1 tbps olive oil in a large bowl  or in a Ziploc bag with 1/2 tsp salt and the 1 tbsp black pepper; toss well. Arrange squash mixture in a single layer on a baking sheet coated with tin foil (or can use cooking spray). Bake at 400° for 30 minutes or until squash is tender.

3. On another baking sheet with foil, lay the bacon flat and cook for 20-30 minutes (cooking times will vary greatly based on the thickness of the bacon). Flip the bacon every 5 minutes to ensure its fully cooked and not burnt.

4. While the butternut squash and bacon are in the oven cooking, place the chopped onion in a saute pan on the stovetop. When the bacon is done cooking, pour off about 2 tbsp of the bacon drippings into the pan with the onion.

5. Cook pasta 7 minutes or until almost al dente. Add kale to pot of pasta (with water) during last 2 minutes of cooking. Drain pasta mixture into colander and then pour into large mixing bowl.

6. Pull butternut squash from oven and place into bowl with pasta mixture.

7. Pull bacon from the pan and place onto paper towels to dry and crisp. Once crispy and dried – chop into small 1/2 inch pieces and place into bowl with butternut squash and pasta.

8. Turn the onion/bacon drippings (grease) pan to medium heat. Add garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook until onion is translucent. When completely cooked, pour into bowl with pasta/kale/butternut squash/bacon.

9. Combine 1/4 cup broth and flour in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Bring the remaining 1 3/4 cups of the chicken broth to a boil in a small saucepan. Add flour/broth mixture to the boiling broth. Then add the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt to the broth. Cook and whisk 2 minutes or until slightly thickened. Remove from heat; stir/whisk in 1 cup of light sour cream. Then stir in 1 cup of the cheese – continue to stir until melted.

10. Combine squash, bacon, pasta/kale mixture, cooked onion mixture, and cream/cheese sauce in a large bowl; toss gently. Coat a 13 x 9-inch glass or ceramic baking dish with cooking spray; then pour in the pasta. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top of the pasta. Bake at 400° for 25 minutes or until bubbly and slightly browned.

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Chopping kale – keeping the stems out of the chopped mixture

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Butternut squash in oven to roast

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Raw bacon entering oven to cook

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Cooked butternut squash

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Cooked pasta & chopped kale mixture

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Cooked mixture of pasta/kale in big mixing bowl

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Added butternut squash to pasta mix in large mixing bowl

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Cooking onion in bacon drippings

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Final cooked onion/bacon drippings/red pepper flakes added to large mixing bowl

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Cooked bacon resting on paper towels

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Chopped bacon added to mixing bowl

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Cooking the cheese sauce

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Final mixture of all elements: kale/pasta, bacon, squash, onion, cheese/cream sauce

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Pasta dish entering oven

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Final product – YUMMO!

 

Easy Pesto Pasta Salad

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Pasta salad is delicious – WHEN its done right. I am kinda picky about my pasta salad which is odd b/c I eat pretty much everything that comes in my path. Usually restaurants throw in a bunch of pasta, red onion and a basic Italian salad dressing and charge way too much for that thoughtless dish. No thank you!!

I love to make this salad for when I have friends over. They always think its store-bought, but its not! Its super easy to make and is bursting with flavor. If I have leftovers, I use for lunches or quick dinners on weeknights. Grill up a chicken breast or some shrimp – toss it all together and you’ve got a delicious meal. Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3/4 pound rotini pasta
  • 3/4 pound bow tie pasta
  • 3/4 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 2 cups pesto, store-bought or click here to try my recipe
  • 1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2/3 cup good mayonnaise
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parm Ramano
  • 1 small bag frozen petite peas, defrosted
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Bring a large heavily salted pot of water to a boil. Add all pasta. Cook in boiling water for about 8 to 10 minutes total, but taste to ensure its done. Strain and rinse gently with cold water. Toss with olive oil and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, cook the spinach in the microwave according to package directions. Strain into a colander, rinse with cold water and press out the liquid with the back of a spoon. I also grab paper towels and do one last smoosh through the colander to get out any additional liquid. Set aside.
  3. In a very large bowl, stir together pesto, spinach, lemon juice, balsamic, mayonnaise, salt and black pepper. Add pasta, sun-dried tomatoes, pine nuts, peas, and 1/2 cup the parmesan cheese.
  4. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
  5. Before serving, sprinkle with other 1/2 cup of the cheese.
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Cooked pasta tossed in olive oil

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Peas thawing

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Chopped sun-dried tomatoes

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Mixing mayo, spinach, pesto, basil, salt, pepper, lemon juice & red pepper flakes

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Final product!

Shrimp & Artichoke Pesto Pasta

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If you follow any previous posts – you’ll know that I love me some PESTO sauce. It is delicious. Freezes well. Goes with everything: pizza, pasta, sandwiches, dips, seafood, beef, chicken — its awesome sauce (pun fully intended). This recipe is a quick after-dinner recipe that takes about 20 minutes to make from start to sitting down to eat. Just make the pesto ahead-of time and its that easy! Use fresh shrimp if possible and either make or buy fresh pasta. Buitoni is delicious and makes a big difference. I used fettuccine is this recipe. Buon Apetito!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3/4 – 1 cup pesto sauce
  • 1 lb fresh shrimp
  • 1 lemon juiced
  • 2 tbsp fresh parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 white onion chopped
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic (about 3 large cloves)
  • 2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 cup halved artichoke hearts
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1 package fresh pasta
  • salt & pepper

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Set a large pot of lightly salted water to boil on stove.
  2. Peel and devein shrimp – poo in your shrimp is bad news. 🙂
  3. Pat shrimp dry.
  4. Sprinkle salt and pepper over shrimp.
  5. Place artichokes, Italian seasoning, and half of lemon juice in a bowl and mix. Set aside.
  6. Place onion and butter in saute pan over medium heat.
  7. Once onion is starting to cook and become soft, add in garlic and red pepper flakes.
  8. Add the other half of lemon juice and white wine.
  9. Simmer for about 2 minutes.
  10. Check pasta water – add pasta and cook (if fresh pasta) for about 2 minutes in boiling water. If dry pasta, cook for approximately 8-10 minutes. When pasta is cooked, strain and cover with towel to keep warm.
  11. Add raw shrimp to saute pan. Cook for 2-3 minutes.
  12. Once shrimp is mostly pink and starting to curl up, add in the pesto sauce and artichoke hearts. Continue to saute for another 2 or so minutes.
  13. Add in cooked pasta – do this in thirds so you can toss pasta in the sauce and add in more pesto if its needed.
  14. Once all pasta is mixed with the shrimp/artichoke/pesto sauce – its ready to go
  15. Place into serving bowls and top with parmesan cheese.

Enjoy!

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Raw shrimp waiting to be shelled and deveined

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Veins in shrimp = bad

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Shrimp with no veins = good

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Shrimp patted dry and sprinkled with salt and pepper

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Artichokes with Italian seasoning and lemon juice

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Onions, garlic, wine, lemon juice, red pepper flakes cooking

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Cooking shrimp!

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Added pesto to the shrimp mixture

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Artichokes added to pesto sauce and adding pasta bit by bit

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Done!

Pesto Sauce

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Pesto Sauce is one of my favorite sauces, why its not a ‘mother sauce‘ I don’t know. I think they should add a 6th one for sure. Basil makes everything taste better, parmesan cheese, pine nuts, olive oil and garlic – what’s not to love?! This sauce is great on pasta, on salads, on sandwiches, and I even will serve it over cream cheese with sun dried tomatoes and crackers as an appetizer. So easy! I also use this in my chicken florentine pizza recipe. I usually make a double batch, freeze it, and pull it out to thaw while I’m at work – when I get home voila – sauce ready for use.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1.5 cups fresh basil leaves, pulled from stems (pack tightly into the cup)
  • 1 cup evoo
  • 2 tbsp fresh minced garlic
  • 3/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Place all basil into food processor or blender. Pulse lightly a few times until roughly chopped.
  2. Add in garlic.
  3. Pulse a few more times.
  4. Turn machine on and pour in half of the olive oil.
  5. While machine is still running, add in pine nuts.
  6. Continue with remainder of olive oil and last add the cheese.
  7. After adding cheese only let the processor run for 5-10 more seconds.
  8. Stop machine – add s&p. Pulse a few more times – and pour into mason jar or container for use within a couple of days, or freeze immediately.
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Ingredients

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Basil roughly chopped in food processor

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All ingredients blended together

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Final product – this is the actual amount made w/ these measurements

Langoustine Linguini

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If you are a Costco addict, you and I have more in common than the love for food – and that also makes you awesome. Costco is amazing and if you don’t have one in your area, you probably think all of us Costco junkies are nuts, but it was the gift of Costco that lead me to this recipe. They have a great selection of seafood at amazing prices. Langoustines are available sporadically throughout the year, and when we spot them – we buy them every time and make this dish.

Langoustines are teenie little lobsters which are not teenie in flavor. They are extremely popular in Europe. I love to use them in dishes as you get much more of that lobster taste in every bite for a much lower price than a traditional lobster.

This recipe is one my husband found, and we’ve adjusted it over the last couple of years to make it even more delicious. The sauce is very simple – so you can really taste the langoustines, capers, lemon, and all the other deliciousness. I hope you enjoy this ‘Potts family star’ recipe as much as we do.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb linguini (or angel hair) pasta
  • 1 1/2 lb langoustines
  • 8 oz bacon – chopped
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion – thinly sliced
  • 2 small to medium size vine tomatoes – diced small
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup capers
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1 cup quartered artichokes
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
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Ingredients!

Directions:

  1. In a large pot of salted water, cook the pasta until just al dente. Reserve about 1/2 cup of pasta water just before its time to drain.
  2. Drain and return pasta to the pot. Cover to keep warm.
  3. In a large saute pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook until close to crispy. Remove and set on plate lined with paper towels.
  4. To the same pan, add the onions and cook, stirring until soft for about 5-7 minutes.
  5. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for about 1-2 minutes seconds.
  6. Add the wine, 1/2 cup chicken broth, 3/4 teaspoon salt, red pepper, lemon juice, and langoustines. Cook on med-high heat, stirring often until the shellfish are pink and cooked through, about 5 minutes.
  7. Add the capers, artichokes, tomatoes, parsley, bacon and stir to combine. Saute for about 3-5 minutes.
  8. Add the cooked pasta to the shellfish mixture and toss well to combine. I recommend adding the pasta to the sauce in batches to ensure the pasta and the sauce are in the right proportions.
  9. Cook until the pasta is heated through, about 1-2 minutes.
  10. Remove from the heat, add the lemon zest, and adjust the seasoning with salt or more pepper if needed.
  11. Sprinkle with Parmesan. Plate and serve immediately.

*Note: If at any time you feel the sauce is dry or there isn’t enough, you can add the pasta water or wine…or both! Just add in equal portions – tablespoon by tablespoon until its to your liking.

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Me, my zester, wine, and cute new spring shoes! Oh yeah – I’m cooking too.

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Step 1: Getting pasta started!

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Step 3: Cooking bacon

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Step 3: Bacon cooked & drying on paper towels

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Chop Chop Chop!

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Chopped tomatoes, chopped artichokes & capers

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Step 6 & 7: Sauce mix after all ingredients included

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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. 🙂

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 –  serves approx 4 people

Ingredients:

  • 3 oz semolina flour.
  • 5 oz “00” 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

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