Sunday, May 12, 2013

Pan Roasted Gnocchi, 2 ways.

Some of you know that I'm a fan of Sam the Cooking Guy. I like to re-create his recipes, which are plain enough to modify, but thoughtful enough to duplicate. One of his recipes is Pan Roasted Gnocchi. Since I had some Priano Potato Gnocchi from Aldi's, I invited over a guest to endure yet another one of my cooking endeavors.

First, I had to find use for my jar of roasted red peppers. I personally think that roasted red peppers are one of the best ingredients ever, next to sun dried tomatoes. They offer a lush yet piquant flavor, and I've been thirsting to incorporate them into more recipes. The long suffering guest brought over a baguette, and 3 different kinds of cheese: gorgonazola, a goats milk brie, and a parmigiano-reggiano. He also brought pesto, which we would use for the gnocchi later.

I've never worked with jarred peppers before, and these were packed in oil. I didn't rinse them, thinking the oil would be beneficial to the dry baguette, which I found to be useful, as it didn't seem too oily to me. Then we added the different cheeses on top, and stuck 'em in the oven to bake.

It was quite tasty/cheesy/melty. The gorgonzola was my favorite since the strong cheese can stand up to the roasted pepper. But I found myself longing for more flavor, which I'm noticing is becoming a food theme for me. I often find myself slightly dissatisfied with the lack of flavor in my food. I'm discovering that my signature as a consumer is one often one that yearns for bold flavors. (Sorry Minnesota.)

We hunkered down to review Sam's Pan Roasted Gnocchi episode in preparation. The recipe seemed to be a little bare to me, but I went with it anyways. It goes like this:

  • 1 pound gnocchi
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup basil pesto
  • or.....
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3-4 tablespoons tomato paste
  • Parmesan cheese for serving 
  1. In a large pot of water, boil gnocchi about 2 minutes or until they float - drain well
  2. Melt butter in a non stick pan over medium heat and add gnocchi
  3. Cook until starting to brown on both sides and add pesto OR garlic & tomato paste
  4. Mix well until pesto or tomato paste is well incorporated into gnocchi
  5. Plate and serve with Parmesan cheese.   
Some may realize by now that I tend to favor fast paced cooking techniques. Since this called for 2 separate types of gnocchi, to be cooked in 2 different pans, the inner Type A control freak was pleased. What I did was chop up some garlic, get 2 skillets ready and warmed up, and added butter

Gnocchi A:

Gnocchi B:

(dreams comin true!)

The downfall to my love of stressful, focused cooking is that I am often unable to get any great action shots. This particular recipe moved very quickly. Let me recap it:

Gnocchi A received the the pesto, which as soon as I added it basically...burned and/or evaporated upon contact. Thinking to myself, "well ok...the skillet is maybe too hot", I turned it down a bit. Waited a few minutes, then added more pesto. Which burned and/or evaporated upon contact, again. My guest suggested using more butter, which I ignored since I'd already put about 2 tbsp in there, and wasn't convinced was the issue.

Gnocchi B received the Amore Tomato Paste (see it here in February Faves. I know I haven't done a favorites blog recently, but I will again), which coated the gnocchi and heated more efficiently. I wasn't seeing much browning on them however, even after about 5-7 minutes of pan roasting. So I left them on a minute longer, and added a little more sauce to each before removing them.

Looks pretty good, I know. HONESTY TIME: I found them to be bland and dull. The opposite of everything I ever want in food. The gnocchi was crispy, but the flavor was strange and the dish was dry overall.

I still find myself wondering what went wrong here. I did use different skillets (one stainless, one cast iron) and found the cast iron (Gnocchi B) came out slightly better. So was it the skillets? The heat? Lack of butter? Lack of ingredients? My instinct tells me that the paramount here was lack of ingredients, followed by a smaller combination of the other aspects.

I don't claim to be an excellent cook. But I am good at it. And at my best, I have sharp cooking sensibilities. It's something I like to do. I find it mentally and physically stimulating. Even artful. As with creative endeavors, the progress is of more intristic value than the end result. Even our failures can count as accomplishments.


  1. Loved this post! Food looks delicious, sorry the 2nd dish didn't work out! Love your descriptions though! They'll be perfect next time ;)

  2. Thanks Bridget! Always appreciate the feedback. :-)