I’m in the midst of my first-ever self-imposed knitting break. It’s weird to not be picking up the needles during down time, but I’ve been dealing with neck pain since I moved to New York two and a half years ago, and I just needed a break to let things relax. But one benefit of not knitting is the additional time I spend on other pursuits—notably tonight, cooking.
Last week I bought some pesto at Fairway, a fabulous local New York grocery store. I used it in a different dish (pesto-crusted salmon) for Valentine’s Day with the boy, and I discovered it had a consistency less emulsified and more oily than when I make pesto from scratch—a quality that just begged to be slathered on potato gnocchi. The last time I made gnocchi was, if I am remembering correctly, about seven years ago, and I don’t remember it being particularly successful (after all, I never did it again), but this rich, seductive pesto needed to be dripping off homemade gnocchi. Immediately. The craving was palpable.
My poor neglected food mill was out of practice; it only gets put to use when making mashed potatoes. Which is a perfectly good use for a food mill, of course, but it’s always fun to find a new use for it. (I am aware, of course, that the use is still for milling potatoes, but the result it what matters here.) Tonight those potatoes had only a small bit of egg and about half a cup of flour added to them to make a light, fluffy potato dough.
I followed the recipe exactly but it turned out I didn’t need nearly the whole 3/4 cup of flour to get the dough to hold—it was soft and supple and not at all sticky. It made perfect plump pillows of gnocchi, all ready to be stroked across the tines of the fork. . . . Whew, I’m getting a little carried away.
Finding a rhythm for drawing the gnocchi across the fork was the only slightly tricky part; by the last few bits I felt confident with my technique. I used the back of the fork and rolled the nugget with my thumb ever so gently; it responded quite satisfactorily to my touch.
Threw them into the re-boiled potato water and they were happily bobbing at the top within a minute; drained into a bowl and slathered with the pesto and it was a meal to die for. All it needed (not in the picture) was a shaving of some fresh, salty parmesan cheese to round out the flavors and make this the best meal I’ve made in a long while. Mmmmmmm. I got the happy ending.