Toasted walnuts and fried sage are the driving force here. (Cathy Pollak)
Is there a dish you make that gets your family a little excited for mealtime? At my house, itís 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 Hawaii, and ever since we havenít stopped talking about that meal. Making homemade gnocchi is definitely on my culinary bucket list. I will get to it. Sooner than later, I hope.
Making a bechamel sauce for this dish is also really easy. If you have never made this creamy sauce before, donít worry. The great thing about a bechamel sauce is that once you know how to execute it, youíll be able to whip one up for a variety of dishes. Itís 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.
Spend time toasting your walnuts over low heat. The slow toast brings out the walnutís 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 created by Cathy Pollak for NoblePig.com
Fried sage leaves and walnuts
12 fresh sage leaves
ľ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Ĺ cup whole walnuts
2 tablespoons butter
ľ cup all-purpose flour
1 Ĺ cups whole milk
3 large cloves of garlic, pressed or make into a paste
Ĺ teaspoon dried sage leaves
ľ teaspoon both salt and pepper
ľ 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 itís 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. Serves 4 (small portions).
Per serving: 597 calories; 34 g fat (9 g saturated fat; 51 percent calories from fat); 60 g carbohydrates; 38 mg cholesterol; 775 mg sodium; 14 g protein; 4 g fiber.
Cathy Pollak runs a vineyard and winery in the Willamette Valley of Oregon. She shares her love of food and wine at noblepig.com. One for the Table is Amy Ephronís online magazine that specializes in food, politics, and love. www.oneforthetable.com