Gnocchi with Basil Cream Sauce

I came across some gnocchi the other day, and I decided that I must have them…I just needed to make them for a dinner. I have eaten gnocchi maybe twice in my life. When made the right way, it is really good. When made wrong, it can me a heavy, lumpy, pasty mess. Gnocchi are essentially potato/wheat dumplings. They are a heavy meal, so you don’t need much to fill you up. I am determined to make my own one day. I fondly remember one Saturday afternoon with my dad in Minneapolis, watching Lidia Bastianich and her family making gnocchi. They make it look so simple. Lovely Lidia had her miniscule grandchildren working hard on the gnocchi. I wonder if I can get that sort of child labor into my kitchen. They can even pronounce gnocchi properly!

Anyhow, I decided to make the gnocchi with a basil cream sauce. I chose the basil cream sauce mainly because I scored some beautiful fresh basil at the store when I was picking up the gnocchi. The spouse is not as fond as pesto as I am…so basil cream sauce is some sort of middle ground. One day I will share the great pesto story.

Basil Cream Sauce

2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
5 cloves garlic, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup half and half
1/2 cup milk (I used skim)
1/4 cup grated parmesean
1/2 cup baby peas
1/3 cup pesto (I whipped some up in the food processor for this, you could use store-bought)

In a sauce pan, melt the butter. Add in the olive oil. Add in the garlic and onion and saute a few minutes. Add in some salt and pepper. Stir. Stir in the flour. Whisk in the milk and cream. Keep whisking. Add in the parmsesean. Do not stop whisking! Add in the pesto and the peas. Stir, stir, stir. Turn the heat to low. Let’s move on to the dumplings.

Gnocchi cooks up very quick. Do not cook until you are ready to serve. For a pound of gnocchi, heat up 4 quarts of salted water until boiling. Throw the gnocchi into the hot water. When the gnocchi floats to the top, it means they are done. Drain the gnocchi.

Plate up your dinner. Garnish with some pine nuts, basil leaves, and a good healthy dose of parmesean cheese.

About Hindy Garfinkel
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