The Past and Pasta

There is nothing more thrilling than meeting your future spouse for the first time. Turning around and seeing their smile, the way they walk, how their eyes shine when they’re happy. I was lucky enough to have this experience 4 months ago when I met my fiance, Rachel. We met online and talked constantly for the days leading up to our first date. When we met that night it was love at first sight and we’ve barely left each other’s side since then. I’m not a competitive person, but when I heard about Rachel’s exes I knew i had to one-up them all.  So naturally I set out to impress her the only way I knew how, I cooked her the best meal she’s ever had. I thought to myself, “no food is sexier than gnocchi; they’re soft, supple, and delicious. Add in a homemade pomodoro sauce, and I’ll impress the hell out of her.” Needless to say, she was blown away. Want to make your own romantic dinner for two? Here’s my recipe for Gnocchi with Pomodoro Sauce. Gnocchi is the easiest pasta to make at home, and can be ready in 10 minutes. Just think, in the time it would take to call for take out you could prepare a homemade meal. To quote the great Italian plumber, Mario, “Here we go!

Gnocchi

  • 3 pounds russet potatoes
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg, extra large
  • 1 pinch salt

Peel, chop and boil the potatoes until they’re soft; like you’re making mashed potatoes. Once cooked, pass them through a potato ricer. Place a bunch of water on to boil and add a generous amount of salt, about 3 tablespoons. Place riced potatoes, pinch of salt, and egg in a bowl and add flour and stir. I like to do this in my KitchenAid stand mixer, but you can also mix by hand. The dough will be soft and gloopy, like gak (yummy…). From here dump the dough out on a floured surface and knead just until everything sticks together and the dough doesn’t crack anymore. It’s important not to over-knead the dough as that will take these from being soft pillowy dumplings to thick, yucky lumps. If you want to see an expert do it, Gordon Ramsay has a great video. Tear off pieces of dough and roll them into dowel shapes about ¾” thick. then cut off 1” sections. From here you can throw them straight in the boiling water after shaking off the extra flour, or for a traditional look roll each piece on a gnocchi board with your thumb to get the signature indentation and stripes that are synonymous with gnocchi. Now you’re probably saying, “that’s great Andy, are we supposed to eat these delicious gnocchi plain?” No, you’re not. Whip up this sauce ahead of time and leave it simmering on the stove. Not only will it look like you worked forever on the sauce, but it’ll fill the house with an incredible aroma. Pomodoro Sauce

  • 4 tomatoes, concassed
  • 1 15oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup fresh basil, chiffonade
  • 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. dried parsley
  • salt and pepper
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • 1 onion
  • 1 shallot
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp. oil
  • ¼ cup cream
  • 1 cup pasta cooking water
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese

Dice and saute onion, shallot, and garlic in olive oil until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add tomatoes and tomato juice to pan and turn heat to medium-high. Add in red pepper flakes, oregano, parsley, and basil; reduce until most of the liquid is gone. Add some of the pasta water, parmesan cheese, and sugar and reduce again until the liquid is gone and you have a smooth, yummy sauce. Turn off heat and stir in cream. Mix the sauce with the gnocchi, top with some more grated parmesan and basil, and serve. If this meal doesn’t impress that special someone, they clearly can’t be impressed.

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