Sunday, January 22, 2012

Gnocchi in Toasted Walnut and Gorgonzola Cream Sauce

This is a great recipe to whip up with basics that you probably already have in your kitchen. It relies on one of the most basic and important sauces in anyone's arsenal: bechamel.

1 head of cauliflower
1 head of garlic
2 Tbsp, plus 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 package of dry gnocchi (or tortellini or even rotini)
1 Tbsp salted butter
1 Tbsp all purpose flour
1 shallot, finely chopped
4-6 Cups of milk
1/4 Cup crumbly blue cheese, Gorgonzola or Danish bleu
1/4 Cup chopped walnuts, toasted
dash of nutmeg
freshly ground black pepper
salt to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut cauliflower into florets, wash, and toss in a large bowl with 2 Tbsp olive oil. Spread on a foil covered cookie sheet. Cut top off garlic, exposing each clove. Place in the centre of a square of tinfoil and drizzle with 1 tsp olive oil. Pull the corners together and wrap up the garlic in a little parcel.

Put cauliflower on the top rack and the garlic below. Turn the cauliflower every 10-15 minutes for 30-40 minutes until the cauliflower is golden brown but not fully cooked.

In a large pot, set salted water on to boil for the gnocchi.

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat and add the shallots, stirring occasionally. Cook until browned. Add the flour and stir until all the butter and flour have combined to form a paste. Reduce heat and pour in 1 Cup of milk. Stir vigorously to remove lumps. Continue adding milk incrementally, always stirring to incorporate. Scrape the bottom of the pan to keep the sauce from burning. Eventually the sauce will begin to thicken. Monitor the thickness of your sauce. It can always be thinned out again by adding more milk.

Carefully drop the gnocchi into the boiling water and cook for 5 minutes, when the gnocchi are fluffy and floating. Remove from the heat, strain, and set aside. Toast the chopped walnuts until they begin to release their aroma. If you don't have or don't like walnuts, try pine nuts, pecans, or pistachios.

After about 15 minutes of simmer on low, the sauce should be a velvety texture. Add the toasted walnuts to the sauce, stirring to combine. Crumble in the blue cheese, adjusting for flavour as desired. Some people have trouble with the strong taste of blue cheese, others love it. If you really would rather, aged cheddar would also do lovely here.

When the cauliflower is mostly browned but still firm, it is ready. Remove the garlic from the oven, carefully open the foil, and let the garlic cool before squeezing out the cloves and stirring them into the sauce. Add the cauliflower and mix well. If by this point you are worried your sauce won't sufficiently cover the amount of gnocchi you've made, you can always splash in a little more milk and continue stirring.

Finally, pour the sauce over the cooked gnocchi, stir over medium heat for one more minute, and serve with grated Parmesan. No photos. Just delicious memories...


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    1. This recipe took the heaviness out of gnocchi. The potato, nut, and cheese flavour comes together real nice. What wine pairing would you do with something like this?

  2. Try something white with a bit of body. I like Californian Sauvingon Blancs, so long as they are not too aromatic. You don't want a floral wine to get in the way of the robust flavour of the sauce. Schug Winery makes a lovely bottle. Read about it here: