Gnocchi is a wonderful dish that somehow, people tend to forget when they make Italian dinners. I love it because of its diversity, heartiness and versatility. More than pasta, it really absorbs the flavors you use with it. If you can make it fresh yourself, all the better. But if not, make sure to buy a quality fresh Italian brand. I like vacuum-packed and fresh, instead of frozen. The difference between "good" and "bad" is immense and comes down to gummy/pasty or light and pillowy. This was a fantastic spontaneous gnocchi dish, celebrating the best of summer Italian flavors. Here's my "Summer Gnocchi with Fresh Caprino Tomato Sauce and Pistachios".
A few touches were crucial to this dish, and they truly were not only scrumptious but also sumptuous. The fresh Caprino cheese was the star for this sauce. It is a mild, delicate and very creamy goat's milk cheese that made this sauce light but decadent-tasting. the pistachios I used were fresh Sicilian with an intense flavor and gorgeous color. The basil I used is from my balcony planter, and it's my favorite Bush Basil. I love how it's more fragrant and flavorful than Italian basil and easier to grow in containers. The fresh fennel too, is a very important component. Instead of onions I used it to create a summery and fresh taste for the base of the sauce. The green curlycue you see is a garlic scape and I love its soft and subtle garlic taste.
Another note about this dish: rather than make my sauce with olive oil, which is usually my choice, I used good unsalted butter here. I wanted the velvety texture of butter and since gnocchi is made from potatoes, I usually prefer butter-based sauces with it. It's your choice, but if you're wanting the silkiest texture, use good butter in this one.
Here's my recipe
1 lb. fresh gnocchi
2 T. unsalted butter
1/2 bulb (about 1 cup) fresh fennel, diced
1 garlic scape or clove, minced
2 medium vine-ripened tomatoes, diced
3/4 oz. Caprino Fresco cheese or other fresh delicate goat's milk cheese
Kosher Salt and Black Pepper to taste
1/4 c. Sicilian pistachios, chopped
2 T. fresh bush basil, minced
1. Bring a large pot of water to boiling and salt lightly.
2. In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the fennel and garlic scape and saute until the fennel turns transluscent. Add the tomatoes and cook until they begin to soften.
3. Add the gnocchi to the boiling water and cook just until the gnocchi floats to the surface, about 3 minutes.
4. Stir the Caprino cheese into the sauce gently, melting and incorporating it thoroughly. When the gnocchi is finished cooking, skim it from the boiling water and add directly to the sauce. You may need to use a ladle of water as well if the tomatoes are not too juicy. Toss the gnocchi and sauce well, until thick and creamy. Add the pistachios and basil, toss again and serve immediately.
This is my favorite dish of the summer so far. Enjoy! Try to find the Caprino, it's incredible!