Nic and I were doing our regular shopping trip last Saturday, trolling through the aisles as you do looking for inspiration. I think I was sussing out the cool pencil cases they had in the ‘back to school aisle’ when he casually said,
‘Hey, I grabbed some gnocchi to try…it’s on special’
Doing a quick calculation in my head a) I have NEVER bought store-bought gnocchi in my life b) we ARE in Italy and c) really, store-bought gnocchi? and without missing a beat and showing my doubt I mumbled, sure OK and moved on.
Yes I am a food snob, this is a fair judgement but I have decided I will open my mind to new things while living in Italy and I guess if the gnocchi is on special, it looks fresh (kinda) and Italians are buying it then it can’t be that bad?. On the positive side of buying gnocchi- I’ve just saved myself about 40 minutes of cooking prep time in my tiny kitchen with no bench space and that can only be a BIG positive!
OK so the day arrives (actually it was my anniversary dinner) when I tackle the store gnocchi.
‘How do I cook this?’ I say to Nic….did I forget to mention I just finished a delicious bottle of Prosecco?
‘Like normal gnocchi’ was his answer, but then I decided to turn it into a gnocchi bake after reading about one in Saveur…..or was it on someones food blog??? Anyway, I thought I’d make the sauce first and think about the technicalities later.
OK, dead easy tomato sauce, I won’t write the recipe here as I have it about 3 times on my old Family of Foodies blog, so feel free to check them out at your leisure. Once you have this yummy sauce ready to go simply boil water in a large stock pot with a good pinch of salt and I’m not talking 5 grains of salt! Bring to the boil and add your gnocchi. Let the gnocchi rise to the top (water will also go a little foamy) but don’t let it boil as it will break apart your gnocchi.
Once the gnocchi has been sitting on the surface for about 40 seconds, strain the gnocchi and toss in the tomato sauce. Brush the bottom and sides of a baking dish with olive oil or butter, pour in your saucy gnocchi and then for a really, really tasty and quick dinner get a really good quality pesto (of course if you have a homemade one lurking in fridge then awesome) but whatever you do, DON’T buy a jar of something that looks dark green, close to brown that is trying to pass itself off as pesto, or something that looks like it can keep for the next year and a half (it will ruin the dish). I bought some from the deli and it is pretty awesome (yep, another bonus living in Italy I know but we all know it exists in other countries too!)
Ok, so once your gnocchi is in the baking dish, add a few good teaspoons of pesto to the dish but don’t spread it around, just leave it whole. Add thick slices of fresh mozzarella then pop baking dish in a preheated oven (180 degree) for about 5 minutes; just to melt the cheese and warm the pesto. Serve ASAP.
As I am typing this, Alex walks by and sees the photo then lets out a
“Whaarr, I loved that one, when can we have it again?”
It seriously took about 10 minutes of prep time and 20 minutes all up of cooking; served with a yummy garden salad, it was a fabulous 20 minute meal all thanks to the store bought gnocchi which makes me think, maybe there are other things I need to take off my ‘no way’ food list?!