by Cathy Pollak
Is there a dish you make that gets your family a little excited for mealtime? At my house, it's gnocchi. When word gets out gnocchi is showing up for dinner, everyone starts milling around the kitchen, just waiting. Thank goodness this pasta only takes a few minutes to boil.
Gnocchi is a wonderful comfort food, and a blank canvas to shape into any combination of flavors. We recently had some amazing homemade mushroom gnocchi while in
Making a bechamel sauce for this dish is also really easy. If you have never made this creamy sauce before, don't worry. The great thing about a bechamel sauce is that once you know how to execute it, you'll be able to whip one up for a variety of dishes. It's simple to change the flavor to go with almost anything. You will never be at a loss when it comes to needing something creamy for one of your recipe creations.
The flavors of walnut and sage are also a classic pairing. They are the driving force behind this dish. The toasted walnuts add texture and the fried sage leaves boost flavor, add a little crunch and are visually appealing. If you are not a walnut fan, you could use pine nuts. It won't be the same slightly sweet, slightly bitter flavor walnuts give, but the pine nuts will add the texture this meal needs.
Spend time toasting your walnuts over low heat. The slow toast brings out the walnut's meaty character. Push the walnuts around with a spatula until they just start to brown. Remove them immediately from the heat and the pan to let them cool.
Creamy Gnocchi with Walnuts and Sage Recipe
Recipe created by
Serves 3-4 (small portions).
Fried sage leaves and walnuts:
12 fresh sage leaves
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup whole walnuts
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole milk
3 large cloves of garlic, pressed or make into a paste
1/2 teaspoon dried sage leaves
1/4 teaspoon both salt and pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 pound gnocchi, uncooked
Add oil to a small skillet over medium heat. When oil is heated, add sage leaves, four at a time, and fry for 30 seconds. Place on a paper-towel lined plate to drain. Set aside.
In another nonstick, dry skillet, toast walnuts over low heat until they are slightly browned and fragrant, about 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat and pan. Set aside.
To make bechamel sauce, add butter to a large saucepan (a 12-inch pan works great) over medium heat. Once it's melted, add flour and whisk until fully incorporated. Slowly pour in milk, whisking constantly to remove any lumps. Add garlic, sage, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Simmer until sauce has thickened. About 7-10 minutes. Keep warm.
Meanwhile, cook gnocchi according to package directions. Place it directly into the sauce when it is finished cooking.
To serve, place gnocchi in bowl, garnish with fried sage leaves, walnuts and Parmesan cheese.
Gnocchi Recipe, Italian Cuisine
Available at Amazon.com: The French Kitchen Cookbook: Recipes and Lessons from Paris and Provence