Tuesday, September 28, 2004
Potato gnocchi in roasted garlic & sage cream sauce
Sage, garlic, and potatoes make a proper combination. The following is a simple but effective recipe, particularly for colder weather.

Fresh sage

Peel & quarter potatoes, boil until cooked through, about 20 minutes. Mash, mix with eggs and add enough flour to form a firm & non-sticky dough. Knead dough & roll into a cylinder about the thickness of a finger. Cut into small pieces (gnocchi). Dust with flour and set aside.

Put a half dozen or more garlic cloves, unpeeled, into a shallow saute pan. Roast covered at medium/low heat on the stove for about 15 minutes; turn once halfway through. You can do this while the potatoes are boiling. Once roasted, remove skins from the cloves, mash the cloves, which should be very soft, into a paste with a fork.

Melt butter in a saute pan over medium/low heat. Add mashed garlic & finely julienned fresh sage leaves (chiffonade) to butter, cook until aromatic, about a minute. Meanwhile bring a pot of salted water to boil.

Add diced tomatoes. Season with salt and white pepper. Cook until it forms a stiff paste, about 5 minutes.

Turn heat to low. Add half and half or heavy cream, stir constantly, until the sauce is thick and coats a spoon, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat.

While reducing the sauce, toss gnocchi into boiling water. Remove with a slotted spoon once they float.

Toss the cooked, drained gnocchi in the sauce; coat well. Garnish with fresh sage chiffonade and grated cheese (Romano, Parmesan, Asiago, &c.). Serve immediately.

I like Yukon gold, which makes for a pale yellow gnocchi; but any starchy potatoe will do. 1 cup of mashed potatoes (=1 large potatoe) plus 1 egg and about 1 cup of flour makes enough gnocchi for two.

Don't worry about the garlic; once roasted they are very mellow. But make sure they don't burn.

The tomatoes do nothing except add body to the sauce, so in fact the milder the tomatoe the better; cheap commercial tomatoes with no flavour is perfect. I like yellow tomatoes, which are sweeter and not so acidic, and also makes the sauce a pale yellow which looks very buttery. I imagine you can substitute yellow bell-pepper, pureed, for the tomato. You can omit the tomato altogether and stirr in grated cheese at end to give the sauce body; it's a bit heavy for me though.

Half-and-half is a compromise. Can also use heavy cream or milk, depends on how creamy you want it. Figure 1 cup of chopped tomato and 1/2 cup of half-and-half.