I’ve never made this before, but now I know it will definitely become one of my regular dishes. Aside from being visually stunning, it was incredibly amazing tasting too. Why had I never thought of this before? I’ve made spinach gnocchi, pumpkin gnocchi, but this takes the cake. I love spinach gnocchi, but find it tasting pretty much the same as potato gnocchi. And I love pumpkin gnocchi, but you have to be careful with what you pair it with, because the pumpkin is very sweet, and you can’t just top it with any sauce. Beets are another beast altogether. Yes, they are sweet, but it is an earthier sweetness. The natural sugars aren’t as prevalent as the pumpkin in this dish, and I think I can mix this with lots and lots of sauces.
My true meter of how good something is, is my daughter. She isn’t finicky, let’s called her particular in her tastes. She knows what she likes, and she likes good things. She eats a whole heap of different vegetables, but it totally depends on their preparation. After she finished her plate, she looks at me, almost incredulously, and asked, “WHY haven’t you ever made this before??” And subsequently went on to have it again for dinner. Now that, my friends, is a true triumph in my book!
When I first started making gnocchi, it was an absolute disaster. They were either too gummy, or would just fall apart. Gnocchi, once mastered, is quite easy to make. But, it is a hands on preparation, and there is no one recipe that will be perfect. Because it all depends on the potatoes you use, and as my Italian uncle (who taught me how to make perfect gnocchi) told me, you have to use just enough flour that the potatoes “take”. This basically means, you need to practice your recipe and play with the amounts, and as you are mixing, you hands will tell you when it is ready. I will list the ingredients I measured out, but please bear in mind, that no two potatoes are the same, and you have to feel it. You will know when the gnocchi will be perfect because as you are mixing them with your hands, you’ll realize they are still too soft and you need more flour, or that you have added just enough. It isn’t complicated, it’s actually quite fun. I think the first person to make this was a genius, but was also having fun with his play dough and said, hey….why don’t I make pasta this way! It also always reminds me of that Far Side cartoon where you see God making clay animals, and he gets to the snake:
Anyhow, I digress. I also thought that a four cheese sauce would be awesome with the beet gnocchi. I used parmesan, Emmenthal (swiss), stracchino (which is a creamy italian cheese, more pungent than mascarpone, less than gorgonzola) and gorgonzola. It was a perfect match!
Please, please, please make this at home. I think you will fall in love with it as much as I do!
So here’s what you’re going to need:
For the gnocchi:
1 large beet, pureed and then strained to take out all the excess water (reserve the beet water to use in something else)
1.5 large russet or Yukon gold potatoes, boiled and peeled, then mashed through a potato ricer
1.5 cups of Double zero flour (if you have it, if not, sifted all-purpose flour)
1 tsp of salt
For the sauce:
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3/4 cup grated Emmenthal cheese
1/2 cup Stracchino Cheese, cubed
1/2 cup Gorgonzola Cheese, cubed
1 cup cooking cream (not heavy cream, half and half I suppose)
1 tsp freshly ground Black pepper
Salt to taste
Pinch of freshly grated Nutmeg
Mix your mashed potato with the pureed beets until thoroughly combined. Add the egg, salt and mix.
Now make a well in the center, and start adding the flour, half a cup at a time, until it “takes”. I used 1 1/4 cup of flour, but depending on how much water content your potato has, it could be more or less.
Form the dough into a ball, and let it rest for 10 minutes. In the meantime, make the sauce and place a large stockpot of water to boil with 1 tbsp of salt. To make the sauce, in a large skillet, over medium heat, add the cream and heat, but do not let it boil. When it is starting to thicken, add the cheeses and stir. Take off heat, add the pepper, salt, nutmeg and reserve.
On a clean work surface, bring out everything you will need, such as some flour for dusting, your gnocchi board if you have one, and a tray with some flour and semolina (if you have it) to place the gnocchi after they are made.
Cut the dough into 4 pieces, and roll out each piece into a long snake shape. (This is the fun part!)
Then cut into 1 inch squares, and roll them over your gnocchi tool thing, or the back of the tines of a fork, and place into the tray with the semolina and flour.
When the water is boiling, drop them into the water carefully, so it won’t splosh back on you and burn you (like I did). Boil until the gnocchi just rise to the surface. With a slotted spoon, take the gnocchi out and place them in a dish lined with paper towels.
Can you believe this color?????? Now, heat up your four cheese sauce again, and toss the gnocchi into the skillet with the sauce, until thoroughly heated up and mixed. Serve immediately.
From my kitchen to yours,