Sunday, November 18, 2012

Carrot Gnocchi with Sage and Brown Butter

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It's pretty amazing how simple ingredients, when treated right, can turn into something so delicious.  In this case, just five ingredients - carrots, flour, sage, oil, and butter - are combined into a truly wonderful meal - carrot gnocchi.  We've always been a little intimidated to make classic potato gnocchi because great gnocchi must hold together well yet be light and airy.  When we first came across this recipe as Joanne's choice for the food matters project though, it seemed accessible and straightforward so we gave it a try.

By substituting carrots for potatoes or cheese, these gnocchi become quite sweet and very tender.  They were easy to put together and as long as you don't over mix them (which would build up too much gluten), they seem pretty foolproof.

Meanwhile, the simple brown butter and sage sauce is a perfect savory compliment.  Brown butter is nothing but butter and olive oil cooked until slightly browned and richly flavored.  Adding some sage leaves to this combination makes it all the better.  While cooking the gnocchi in batches (to avoid crowding and cooling the water), toss the finished gnocchi with the sauce to let them get a little crispy on the outside - a great contrast of texture to the soft and chewy center.

Pick up some carrots and sage and warm up your next cold evening with this delicious dish.

Carrot Gnocchi with Sage and Brown Butter
From The Food Matters Cookbook by Mark Bittman

1 lb carrots, cut into large pieces
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all purpose flour
Black pepper
Pinch of nutmeg (optional)
2 tbs olive oil
2 tbs butter
5-7 leaves of fresh sage, roughly chopped

Place carrots in cold water with a pinch of salt and bring to boil.  Boil until very soft, about 45 minutes, then drain.  Return carrots to pot and let them dry over low heat for 10 minutes.  Puree carrots in food processor or by hand and add nutmeg, salt, and pepper to taste.

Combine flours in mixing bowl and remove 1/4 of it.  Add carrots to mixing bowl and stir until just combined.  Pinch off a piece of the dough and boil it to make sure it holds its shape.  If it falls apart add more flour to mixture until gnocchi just holds together.

Turn dough onto floured surface and roll into 1/2-inch ropes.  Cut rope into 1-inch pieces and score with a fork to provide grooves which will hold sauce.  Arrange gnocchi, without them touching, on a baking sheet covered with a towel.  (At this point the gnocchi can be frozen on the sheet pan, then transferred to a plastic bag for 3 months.  Do not thaw before boiling.)  Refrigerate for 20 minutes or up to 2 hours.

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and heat oil, butter, and over medium low heat in a large skillet.  Cook a few gnocchi at a time in boiling water until 1 minute after they rise to the surface.  Transfer cooked gnocchi to skillet with sauce and repeat with remaining gnocchi.

Serve immediately.