Thursday, September 3, 2009

GNOCCHI ALLA ROMANA WITH INSALATA CAPRESE

THREE LITTLE WORDS: SAY THEM TO ME


Those three little words. Three lovely little words. What woman doesn’t love to, crave to, hear those three little words. What woman can resist? I love you? No, not the three words I was thinking of no matter how sweet they sound when the right person whispers it in my ear. No, the three little words I love to hear are “quick, easy meal”. Ah, the sound of those three little words makes me smile, makes me sigh, sends shivers up and down my spine, my knees go all wobbly and I get goosebumps all over my body.


I am a baker at heart. Good or bad, successful or flop, I can spend all day in the kitchen measuring and stirring, kneading and folding, rolling and melting. How I love to bake, whether bread or cake, cookies or pudding. I love the feel of dough in between my fingers, soft and sensuous. I love to watch thick, rich batter fall in luxurious ribbons as I lift up my beaters or the way egg whites turn into meringue as I whip in sugar, my finger leaving a deep trail through the glossy mass as I touch it to check the texture. I love the way the house fills with the aroma of chocolate or cinnamon, the heady scent of fresh bread, the divine scent of coffee or vanilla.

But regular mealtimes are a horror to me. There are times when I am really in the mood to chop vegetables, slice meat, stir soups, to create tagines, spending an afternoon turning out a lovely dish that will be spooned or ladled over rice or couscous, reheated the next day even thicker and richer than before, a meal to fill one’s tummy and warm one’s heart. But when I try to grasp the concept of placing two meals a day, lunch and dinner, on the table in front of three hungry men, dishing up something that will satisfy, sate and sooth, a healthy, nutritious, balanced meal, I freak out! Okay, so JP assures me that he doesn’t mind eating cheese and bread with a banana, but every day, twice a day? No. At some point he’ll start making snide remarks: “I’m starving and can’t wait; I mean I only had a measly salad for lunch.” Or “A banana for dinner every night? I can’t go on!” But I never understood how people think up something good, something different to cook and place on the table every day.


So when most people think of quick, easy meals, they think pasta or salad. Pasta and salad, salad and pasta, been there, done that about a gazillion times. Or chop up chicken tenders and toss them in a frying pan. Or hamburgers on the grill. Ok, see my point? No matter how quick and simple, and quick and simple is my mantra, I still want to achieve the WOW effect, I still want to dazzle, I want to sparkle and shine. I would much rather hear sighs of pleasure than groans of disgust or yawns of boredom. I hate to hear “That again? No thanks!” or “Ooh, that’s disgusting, why are you making that again?” Eyeballs rolling, shoulders shrugged? No thanks! Hands clapping, “Ooohs and Ahhhs!” and Mmmms. That’s for me!

Why can't all meals be this easy?

So here is one quick, easy meal that dazzles:


GNOCCHI ALLA ROMANA served with Insalata Caprese

2 ½ cups (600 ml) milk
4 oz (about ¾ cup/100 g) semolina for polenta
1 egg, lightly beaten
3.5 oz (90 – 100 g) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Dash of nutmeg
1 Tbs (15 g) unsalted butter
Olive oil


Bring the milk just to a boil in a saucepan over medium heat. Gradually sprinkle the semolina over the hot milk, whisking constantly. Turn the heat to low and allow the polenta mixture to simmer gently for 3 or 4 minutes, whisking constantly. It should thicken but remain fairly creamy.


Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in about 2/3 of the grated cheese, the nutmeg and the salt and pepper. Slowly pour in the beaten egg, whisking all the while, until well-blended and smooth.


Working quickly, spread the mixture out as evenly as possible in a lightly oiled shallow pan to a thickness of about 1/3-inch. Allow to cool completely.


Preheat the grill of your oven.

Cut the gnocchi into 2 ½-inch (6 cm) circles and arrange them in a baking dish (I lay them out in lines, overlapping them).


Dot with butter (if your butter is soft, you can spread a dab on each gnocchi). Sprinkle the remaining grated Parmesan all over the gnocchi and stick under the grill until the cheese is bubbly and browned.


Serve with a Mozzarella/Tomato Salad using only the ripest, most flavorful tomatoes and good quality Buffalo mozzarella. Give a good grind of black pepper, a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and peppery olive oil.


Enjoy!

35 comments:

gastroanthropologist said...

Yes those are three lovely little words. Sometimes I eat the weirdest things for dinner because I can't be bothered to make a meal. Like tonight - oat cakes slathered with cream cheese and sliced beets. Can't wait to try this recipe. Looks delicious and simple!

Heavenly Housewife said...

How do you do it woman???? How do u always manage to come up with such fab stuff? Today I made 3 dishes for guests coming over. Guess what, only one turned out the way it was supposed to. The other two went into the garbage (I would never serve crap food to guests, its too embarrassing).

The Cooking Ninja said...

Yep, it's a common meal in our house except I never thought about blogging it. hahaha In our house, we didn't cut it so prettily like u did. :) It's very filling too. :)

My version of a quick n easy meal is instant noodle. :p Something that hubby picked up from me after living with me for so many years. I'm so guilty about introducing him to lots of bad things. :(

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

A fantastic meal! Quick, easy and delicious!!!

Cheers,

Rosa

Deb Mele said...

Jamie, a meal after my own heart. Funny you describe yourself as a baker and not a cook where I am just the opposite. I cringe thinking about making cakes, rolling pie crusts and God forbid making macarons, but I can stay in the kitchen for days making bread, fresh pasta, sauces, thinking up new recipes for vegetables, etc.

Quick and easy need not be boring! I have a ton of recipes of my site that are delicious and can be put together in about 30 minutes. I promise!

Deb
http://www.italianfoodforever.com

Jenn said...

Three little words that surround me everyday. lol.

That's a new way to make gnocchi. Really cool. I'm saving this.

Chow and Chatter said...

wow i will say no more!

La Table De Nana said...

I love the shapes:) And..you should write a bbok:)

Kim Teegen said...

Jamie, You are just so clever!!! love it!!!

Elra said...

Oh this is my favorite gnocchi to make. I used to make it a lot, and my family love them. Better make it again soon.

Barbara Bakes said...

I don't know Jamie. It looks a little intimidating to me! Fabulous for sure, but I don't know if it would be easy at my house.

Amy said...

Oh! THOSE three little words. See, the three that make ME weak in the knees are "Want some pie?"

But I like your three, as well.

This looks so yummy. Although I would have stopped right before the 2 1/2 in molds, for I am even less ambitious!

Chow and Chatter said...

I have left an award for you on my blog rebecca

Linda said...

OH.... MY.... GOD. This looks so wonderful. My husband had his Italian grandma making simple meals when he was a boy. He loves polenta. I will have to try this, especially now that the tomatoes are so good!

Natashya KitchenPuppies said...

Those do look really tasty! I have only made the potato or ricotta kind. Takes me hours.

Mary said...

I will follow you to the ends of the earth. That is some recipe. The gnocchi really looks delicious. Yum.

Amy Jones said...

My three little words for this recipe: yes, yes, yes!

Deeba @Passionate About Baking said...

You are reaching new heights everyday my friend, & you are getting me DIZZY! Your men must love you to bits! And now post your mac success, i am ready to kiss the ground you walk on.LOL! This is a wonderful meal! WOW!!

zorra said...

Oh yes, please I would like to eat at least on plate of it. :-)

TheKitchenWitch said...

This looks amazing! When am I invited for supper?

And quick, easy, meal are truly beautiful words...Second only to my favorite: Drinks on me.

Jamie said...

@The Kitchen Witch: for making me laugh out loud with that one, you can come over for dinner tomorrow!

teresa said...

this was a cute post, and those really are the best three words, especially if the meal is as gorgeous as this!

The Duo Dishes said...

Everyone has their talents! You've got yours. Looks delicious.

Chris said...

I have been wanting to make semolina gnocchi for, oh, like a decade. I must get to it! I've never honestly seen them made this way - they look fabulous!! And I love that they are baked (maybe that is normal for this dish? I need to get out more, huh?). Fantastic!

Cathy said...

Mmmm, the perfect dinner in my book. A beautiful tomato salad and scrumptious gnocci are on my menu for the weekend. Thanks.

Ciao Chow Linda said...

Oh yum I do love these. Now that fall is approaching, I'll have to start thinking about making them again. Yours look beautiful with those fluted edges.

buffalodick said...

I tell you I'm not much of a baker, you tell us you aren't much of a cook... What a couple of frauds we are! It looked great!

girlichef said...

I tell ya Jamie...this is simply gorgeous!! I definitely love quick easy meals, too and yours is a perfect creation :D

{kiss my spatula} said...

perfect dinner - i think you may be more of a cook than you think! :)

Joanne said...

Whoa! I would never have thought of making polenta gnocchi. So much easier than the potato kind! This looks awesomely delish. So much cheese and carb goodness.

5 Star Foodie said...

Oh, I love the shape of these delicious gnocchi! And so perfect served with caprese salad (my favorite!).

squeejums said...

Jamie, once again I am inspired! Thank you!

asiangrrl said...

I don't know about easy, Jamie, but that little combo would surely dazzle even the most jaded palate (and eyes). My mouth is watering just looking at the final pic.

Glamoursurf said...

Ohh, this looks so yummy. I just recently found your lovely blog and am looking forward to trying some of your delicious looking recipes, thank you!

The Cooking Photographer said...

Oh you sparkle and shine alright! And make my jaw drop! This is such a wonderful amazing meal!

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