Tuesday, April 8th, 2014
People are always asking me, “When are you going to prepare something simple, something I can make.” They are not interested in mousse, or coq au vin, or beef wellington. I like a challenge, I like making things I haven’t made before but have always wanted to make. Don’t get me wrong, you serve me beans and franks, I’ll eat beans and franks. I’m just not going to blog about it.
Below is a video and a recipe for, Gnocchi in a creamy roasted red pepper and tomato vodka sauce. Wait. That was the hard part. Saying all that with a straight face. Thanks to Costco this dish is incredibly easy to prepare. But it’s a dish that will impress the most discriminating palate. I say thanks to Costco because everything that went into this recipe was stuff I had on the shelf, in large quantities.
First of all, if you’re not tying to impress anyone, you can simply heat up the soup and pour it over your favorite pasta. Bada Bing, that’s it. That’s what I did the first time, But while you’re waiting for the water to boil, you might as well play with the soup
For 2 large servings or 4 first course servings
• One pouch gnocchi
• 16 oz. Pacific Brand Roasted Red Pepper & Tomato Soup (half a carton)
• 1 can diced tomatoes drained
• 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
• 1 small onion chopped fine
• 1.5 oz Vodka
• Grated Parmigiano
Place pot of water on the stove and bring to a boil. Put a couple of tablespoons of Olive Oil in a fry pan. Use a high quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil. What does that mean, “Extra Virgin?” You got one too many virgins? I use the Kirkland Signature brand imported extra virgin olive oil which got a very high rating in Consumer Reports.
Sautee the onions over a medium high heat until soft. The soup is sweet to begin with so you don’t need to cook the onions too long. When the onions are to your liking, add the vodka pouring at arms length. DO NOT PUT YOUR FACE OVER THE PAN. That seems obvious to me but you have to say it. If you’re cooking with gas, merely tilt the pan so the fame comes in contact with the vodka. If you are using an electric stove, use one of those long matches you use for lighting a fire, or grill. Shake the pan until the flames die down. When the flames die down, add the soup and a can of diced tomatoes, drained. Stir everything together.
The water probably has yet to boil. So pour you a glass of red wine and grate some aged Parmigiano Reggiano. If you like a cheesier sauce you can add up to 1/2 Cup of grated cheese directly to the sauce as it’s cooking.
These gnocchi from Costco is imported from Italy and comes in a box of four. It only takes 6 minutes once placed in the boiling water. Drain the gnocchi and add it to the sauce. You can put up to a ½ cup of grated cheese into the sauce if you’d like but it does make the pan harder to clean.
Plate the pasta and sprinkle a little grated cheese on top. For a classy touch add a chiffonade basil. This is the perfect time to use some fresh basil chiffonade. Chiffonade is French for “little ribbons.” You make the ribbons by stacking some large basil leaves then roll them up tightly then making thin slices against the roll. This is also the perfect use for a Santoku knife. Basil is one of those herbs that change taste and character the more you play with it. A larger knife bruises the leaf and the color turns a dark color and it doesn’t make for as nice a garnish.
NOTE: The audio pronunciation guide at Webster’s online dictionary as well as Dictionary.com pronounce Gnocchi as, “nock-ee,” but it’s pronounced like I say it in the video. The “GN” is almost like an “n” before a “y”, with the “n” almost silent. The “Oh” sound is long, n’yo-kee.