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gnocchi carbonara

October 8, 2010

Last night I headed home with the plan of cooking something out of my CSA box, going for a run, and calling it an early night. Two out of three is pretty good right?

I’ve had a couple of ideas floating in mind for what to do with what’s left from my box, including a pretty awesome sounding pizza idea that I have filed away for later use. I definitely wanted to use the naganegi, since they came out of the box looking a little dry and I was concerned about their shelf life. I mulled over the possibilities on my way home, but ultimately settled on gnocchi, since we had a big bag of potatoes sitting around threatening to sprout.

Usually I like my gnocchi with a simple oil, butter, or tomato sauce. But I wanted to get some protein into the meal and decided to go in a different direction this time. Somewhere between work and home I came up with the idea of browning the naganegi and incorporating them into a carbonara.

The carbonara would be quick and simple to pull together after my run, but I knew wouldn’t want to roll out pasta while hungry and dripping with sweat, so I set about prepping the gnocchi as soon as I got home. The gnocchi came together fairly quickly once the potatoes were cooked, and it turned out I had just enough to make six servings. After rolling them out and shaping them I popped half into the freezer for a later date, and stashed the remainder in the fridge while I went out for my run.

I did a quick, but not too intense 5k down the river and back. I had to stop once in each direction for traffic, but ended up finishing in about 30 minutes. I figure that puts me at a pace of just under 6m per km, which is not bad for me.

Back at home I stretched quickly, and then set about finishing dinner. Eric had put the water to boil before I got back, so it was ready and raring to go when I arrived, and dinner was on the table within about 10 minutes or so.

I was pleased with how the carbonara came out. I had to sub in cottage cheese because the block of parmesan we brought back from our last trip home had finally run out, and it worked out fine, but as expected I didn’t think the sauce was the best match for gnocchi. I definitely think the creaminess is better suited to a long pasta. Next time, when I don’t have a bunch of potatoes to use up, I’ll pair it with whole wheat spaghetti like I usually do. The gnocchi came out pretty well, but were not as pillowy as they could have been. It could be related to the age of my potatoes, but I’d rather blame the fact that I am not an Italian grandmother.

Still, it was a really good dinner to come home to after a run. I packed up the remaining portion over a bed of spinach to have for lunch at work today, and was really happy with the combination.

Whole Wheat Gnocchi

650 grams potatoes
100 grams whole wheat pastry flour
1 egg
pinch salt

Cook the potatoes in the oven or microwave until tender, and let cool slightly before removing the skins. Press them through a ricer or, if you don’t have a ricer (like me), improvise with a box grater. Add the beaten egg and flour to the grated potato and use your hands to bring everything together into a soft dough. You may need more or less flour depending on the moisture in your potatoes. Turn out the dough and knead for a minute longer. Be careful not to overwork the dough or you will end up with gummy gnocchi.

Divide the dough into four sections and roll them out into logs roughly 1cm in diameter. Use a knife or board scraper to cut the logs into 1-2 cm pieces, and then roll each piece along the back of a fork to shape. Cook in a large pot of salted boiling water for 3 minutes or until they float. If not cooking immediately arrange on a tray and freeze, or wrap tightly and store in the fridge until needed.

Naganegi Carbonara

1 1/2 tbsp butter
100 grams naganegi or leeks, sliced thin (two medium stalks)
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 strips bacon, sliced (I used turkey, since I don’t eat pork)
2 eggs
60 grams cottage cheese (or Parmesan)
60 grams whole milk
salt & pepper to taste

Set a pot of salted water boiling for the gnocchi, and warm a skillet over medium heat. When the skillet is hot, add the butter, bacon, and naganegi. Let cook for a minute and then add the garlic, being careful not to let burn. While the naganegi caramelizes, break the eggs into a bowl with the cottage cheese and milk and beat until well combined. Cook the gnocchi, and when finished transfer immediately to the skillet with the naganegi. Let brown for just a few seconds, then add the egg mixture and turn off the heat. Adjust salt and pepper to taste, and let the sauce thicken for a moment before serving. Serve immediately for optimal creaminess.

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