Pesto & Ricotta Gnocchi with Spicy Tomato Sauce

A long, long time ago, when our budget for fun far outstripped our budget for Amazon Prime diaper delivery services, I planned a little bachelorette party for my BFF, Jessica. And because we both have the same definition of fun, i.e. pasta, cheese, and wine, a cooking class was in order.

Now I know how to make pasta out of cheese.  Serve this with a glass of red wine and just tell me you’re not having fun.  I dare you.

 

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for the gnocchi

  • 15 oz container whole milk ricotta cheese, drained
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup shredded parmesan
  • 1/2 cup pesto
  • pinch salt
  • pinch white pepper (black pepper also works)
  • optional – very small pinch nutmeg
  • fresh chopped herbs – parsley or basil
  • 1 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (a bit more if the dough is too wet)
  1. Stir together ricotta, pesto, eggs, cheese, salt, pepper – and if desired – a very small pinch of nutmeg.  Very slowly add the flour, stirring gently to form a soft, wet dough.
  2. On a well floured surface, divide the dough in half, and then in half again.  Roll out a quarter of the dough into long rope and then cut crosswise into one inch pieces.  If you want little ridges, press each gnocchi with the back of a fork.  Stick them on a piece of parchment paper (to avoid them sticking) while you turn to the next section of dough.
  3. Repeat step 2 with the next section of dough – two ropes is probably more than enough for two people, so feel free to freeze the rest.
  4. Bring salted water to a boil in a deep skillet (to give you more surface area) and drop each gnocchi in individually, taking care not to drop them on each other.  They will sink to the bottom, rising to the top when they’re done (about five minutes or so per batch).
  5. Lift out cooked gnocchi with slotted spoon and proceed to the next batch.  Serve with tomato sauce below.

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for the spicy tomato sauce

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 red or sweet onion, sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • crushed red peppers
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • pinch sugar
  • a few sprigs basil
  • optional – big scoop of pesto
  1. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan.  Add the onion and cook down 3-4 minutes; add garlic and cook another minute or two.  Add crushed red peppers – as much as you can stand!
  2. Add tomato paste, red wine, and tomatoes.  Stir the whole thing together and cook a few minutes.
  3. Add salt, pepper, sugar, basil and pesto, if using.  Bring to a boil, and then cover, simmering over low heat about 30 minutes.  Discard sprigs of basil before serving over the gnocchi.

 

The Verdict:

This was a veritable party in our mouths…all fun & games until the Little Man woke up.  But no worries – we have more gnocchi dough in the freezer!

 

[recipe tweak/do-over] SK’s Shaved Asparagus Pizza

I recently realized I am THAT lady. The one I’ve certainly felt badly for, but banned from my brain because I never thought I would be her.

This was the moment of realization: I was walking home from work, and I dropped my hair elastic.  To retrieve or not retrieve?

Pros

  1. I’d really like to tie my hair up.
  2. I’m grossed out by other people’s hair ties on the ground.  Like, seriously, you don’t notice when all of a sudden your hair springs loose?
  3. I don’t want to be a litterbug.
  4. I’d really like to tie my hair up.

Con

  1. The ground is really far away.
  2. Really far away.

I did not retrieve my hair elastic.  I am a litterbug.

As you can imagine, I’ve also been a bit of a disaster in the kitchen.  However, I was very proud of myself when I looked in the fridge about a week ago and realized I could basically recreate Deb Perelman’s shaved asparagus pizza (which I attempted here before) from things already in my fridge.  Even better: all ingredients were within easy reach & didn’t require bending down.  Some liberties, of course, were taken.

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Smitten Kitchen Shaved Asparagus Pizza

  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • 1/2 onion, thinly sliced
  • olive oil
  • salt, pepper, crushed reds
  • about 2 tablespoons Balsamic vinegar
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 (prepared) pizza dough (Trader Joe’s) – we used Trader Joe’s – plus a little bit of flour for rolling the dough
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • sprinkle of Parmesan
  • 2 eggs – you’re going to poach these, & it will be awesome.  I find Alton’s instructions turn out the most consistently well-cooked eggs.
  1. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.
  2. “Shave” the asparagus by holding by their (untrimmed) ends against a flat cutting board and running a sharp vegetable peeler across the spear.  I found that using a cheese slicer works best.  Repeat until you have a big pile of asparagus shavings, and then toss them in a small bowl with the onions, olive oil, Balsamic, lemon juice, and a pinch each salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper.
  3. Roll out the pizza dough on a lightly floured surface; sprinkle a bit of the flour on the bottom of your baking sheet and then transfer the dough to the sheet.  Spread the ricotta lightly over the dough, top with asparagus and onion mixture.  Drizzle with a little olive oil if you like, a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese, and then pop the pizza in the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until edges are browned and the cheese is bubbly.
  4. Top with a poached egg and serve immediately.

The Verdict:

Yup, we’ll be having more of this in the future.

 

 

 

Butternut Squash & Chard Lasagna

This month’s issue of Cooking Light is killing it.  Granted, it could be the preggo hormones talking, but I dog-eared almost every single page in the magazine when I got it.

Not that you asked, but here are my general thoughts on Cooking Light:

CL to me = what I imagine Pinterest is to other people.  (Pinterest is far too complicated for me to ever figure out.)  Take the recipe and then add your imagination (and more butter).  Also, I will never use anything but full fat ricotta.  So, of course this “lightened” vegetarian lasagna is really just vegetarian lasagna.  Still, way to go, CL.

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Butternut Squash & Chard Lasagna
  • 3- 4 cups cubed + peeled butternut squash
  • approx 1 cup veggie broth
  • 1 cup milk
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • salt, pepper
  • dash nutmeg (really, small dash – I find nutmeg overwhelming)
  • 1 cup shredded Gruyere/Swiss
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 boxes mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 big bunch Swiss chard or other leafy green
  • half box no boil lasagna noodles
  • a little less than a cup ricotta cheese
  • parsley
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Combine squash, broth, milk, and garlic in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and then simmer until squash is tender (about 20 minutes). Remove from heat.
  3. Place squash mixture in a blender OR – use your immersion blender!! Add salt, pepper, and nutmeg and blend until smooth.   Add the Gruyere and about half the mozzarella to the mixture; stir until it melts all the way in.
  4. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion and mushrooms; cook about 5-7 minutes or until browned and liquid evaporates. Add chard and a splash of broth. Cover and cook until chard wilts.  Drain the mixture – you want all that excess moisture out of there.
  5. Spread about a cup of the squash sauce in bottom of a glass/baking dish, arrange noodles over the sauce, and top with half of the the chard/mushrooms.  Dollop and spread a bit of ricotta all across.  Then, repeat the process – squash sauce, noodles, chard mixture.  Then, more squash, and finally, mozzarella cheese (and parm, if you feel like it).
  6. Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 375 for 35 minutes.  Uncover and bake another 10 minutes – and then turn the heat up and broil the whole thing for the last 3 minutes.  Serve topped with parsley..and a side salad to cut all that cheese!

 

 

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The Verdict:

This is a cheese-fest. Which obviously means it’s an A+ in my book.  Bonus: it makes servings for dayyyyyyys.

 

Lemon and Ricotta Pappardelle with Baby Kale

Another day, another big bowl of pasta.  (Beach season is almost over, right?)

This is the kind of dinner you make when mostly you’re just thinking about takeout.  In other words, it’s not really a recipe, but a scrounging of things that exist in your refrigerator (frost living!) that will save you $25 so you can apply that to your next run to Current Boutique (or whatever you save your pennies for). I’m not anything but future-oriented when it comes to consignment.

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Lemon and Ricotta Pappardelle with Baby Kale

  • 1 bag pre-washed baby kale
  • 1 bag pappardelle pasta
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • about 1 cup ricotta cheese (whole milk, I say!)
  • Parmesan cheese
  • salt, pepper, crushed red pepper
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter
  1. In a large saute pan, heat olive oil and butter together over medium heat.  Add shallot and lower heat, cook down slowly, until translucent (about 5-10 minutes).  Add a bit of salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper.  Add the minced garlic.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and add your pasta.  Cook according to directions.  Drain, reserving about a cup of starchy water.
  3. Add the baby kale (or whatever greens you have) to the saute pan and cook down until wilted.  Add the pasta to the pan, a squeeze of lemon, the ricotta cheese, and a splash of the reserved water.  Mix through until a creamy sauce forms – add more water, as needed.
  4. Serve topped with Parmesan cheese; eat wearing sweatpants.

The Verdict:

If pappardelle is on the menu – anywhere, including in my own house – there’s a 110% chance I’m ordering it.  I just can’t say no.  This bowl of goodness is worth the Dadbod.

Roasted Root Vegetable Tart

I am loving this week of the root vegetable.  Dinner is done in 20 minutes, everything is (fairly) healthy, and the earthiness of the veggies can sometimes stop me from wishing it were spring.

Sometimes.

And then here comes morning, and I actually have to blow dry my hair, so it doesn’t freeze (literally) on my walk to work, and I put on my fleece jacket underneath my long down coat, and then my hat and mittens and boots, and even root vegetables can’t save me.  Oh, spring.  You’re going to be glorious.

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Roasted Root Vegetable Tart

  • one or two cups roasted root vegetables (parsnips, carrots, sweet potatoes, fennel, onions, yum)
  • 1 sheet puff pastry, thawed (don’t let it get too sticky!)
  • pinch flour, for rolling out the dough
  • 1 cup mushrooms
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 1/3 cup ricotta cheese
  • 2-3 oz crumbled goat cheese
  • 1/4 cup cream cheese
  • salt + pepper
  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.  On a lightly floured surface, gently roll out the puff pastry dough so you have a larger surface area.  Put on a large baking sheet, score all the way around (about an inch from the edge), and lightly prick the dough with a fork (to let air escape while it bakes).  Place in the oven and bake about 7-8 minutes, until lightly golden.
  2. While the puff pastry bakes, gently combine the three cheeses in a small bowl.  No need to over work it.
  3. Pull the puff pastry out and lightly spread the cheese all over.  Top with vegetables – root veggies, mushrooms and a little bit of spinach.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Bake for about 10 minutes.
  4. You’re dominating winter.

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The Verdict:

So easy, so quick & it even looks pretty!  Fact: puff pastry is a gift to dinner.