Gnocchi, the classic Italian potato dumpling that is found all of Italy.  I remember being in the town of Sperlonga and eating at restaurant their with my wife.  I ordered one the most basic gnocchi's on the menu which was gorgonzola gnocchi.  Perfect pillows of potato dumplings topped with a gorgonzola cream sauce.  Simple but yet absolutely delicious.  The recipe I played off that a bit and then added seasonal fresh walnuts, grilled grapes and blue cheese.   Finish the dish with a few fresh basil leaves and you have a great little dish with only a few ingredients.  Here is my Italian inspired gnocchi recipe, I hope you enjoy it! 

2 small potatoes steamed, peeled, and riced
1 lb of fresh ricotta homemade  ( not the cheap stuff)
1 egg
3/4 cup of flour plus more for dusting
1 1/2 tsp of salt 

Blue cheese béchamel
2 tbsp of butter
2 tbsp of flour
3 1/2 cup of milk
2 oz of point reyes blue cheese 

1 cup of grilled grapes
1/2 cup of fresh halved walnuts
basil leaves and crumbled blue cheese to garnish

 

For the gnocchi,

Get a steamer prepared by getting a stock pot with water and an insert ready.  Place whole potatoes in the steamer and cook until they are tender all the way through.  Then take the lid off and let them dry out for 3-5 minutes.  While still hot peel off the skin and discard. Then place the potatoes in a food mill or ricer, and rice them into a mixing bowl.  You can let potatoes cool slightly if they are too hot to work with.  Then make a well in the middle of the potatoes and add the ricotta cheese and egg.  Then take a cup of the flour and pour around the outside of riced potatoes. Then with a fork mix the egg into the cheese and potatoes working from the middle then slowly working your way out into the flour.  Once the dough starts to form get rid of the fork and use your hands.  You want incorporate the flour until a smooth dough forms but you don't want to knead or over work it.  You might need more flour if the dough is too sticky.  Once the dough has formed you can cut the dough into 5 slices using a dough cutter or knife.  The take each slice and roll with your finger into a rope.  You might need to add a little flour if the dough is too sticky.  Once a uniform rope of dough has been achieved cut into uniform bite size dumplings.  Then using a gnocchi paddle (board) roll the gnocchi by flicking them into a lightly floured sheet pan lined with parchment paper.  Continue until all the dough is finished. Set aside until ready to cook

For the Blue Bechamel 

In a medium sauce pot on medium heat melt your butter in the pan and then add the flour to make a roux once all the butter has completely melted.  Stir with a whisk for 1 minute.  Then add your warm milk stirring constantly.  Bring the milk to a boil and turn down to a simmer.  Cook for 5-10 minutes.  The milk should thicken.  Once the milk has been thickened to a heavy sauce consistency add cheeses stirring with the whisk until completely melted.  Season with salt and pepper. Set aside and keep warm.  

To finish,

On a hot grill take a your grapes and place in the hottest part of the grill.  Char the grapes for a 2 minutes on each side.  Take off the grill and set aside.  In a pot of salted boiling water add your gnocchi to the pot.  Meanwhile in a hot saute pan add 2 tbsp of butter and olive oil, along with walnuts.  Toast the walnuts for 2-3 minutes.  Once the gnocchi float to the top skim them out of the water and place them in the pan with the walnuts.  Cook for a minute and then add 1-2 cups of the blue bechamel to the pan.  Add the grapes, season everything with salt and pepper, then turn off the heat.  Pour into 4 different bowls.  Finish with blue cheese and basil.  Serve and enjoy!

Gnocchi blue cheese grapes.JPG

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