Tag Archives: yellow onions

Potato and Spinach Gnocchi with Caramelized Onions & Crispy Rye Bread Crumbs

These gnocchi are a variation on a Piedmontese specialty which goes by the name Cabiette. Some recipes call for grating the potatoes while they are raw and combining them with spinach (or more traditionally, nettles) and rye flour. I prefer boiling and ricing my potatoes because the texture is smoother and the gnocchi lighter. Either way, what gives this dish its distinct personality is the use of rye flour and topping of crispy rye bread crumbs, which give the gnocchi a pleasantly nutty flavor and marry well with the slight bitterness of the greens. If you can find nettles, pick off the tender leaves wearing gloves to protect your hands, discarding the stems.

The gnocchi can be boiled and topped with the caramelized onions, grated cheese, and bread crumbs up to 12 hours ahead and refrigerated, so this is a great make-ahead dish for entertaining. Just pop them into the preheated oven when you are ready to serve.

Serves 4

For the gnocchi:

  • 1 and 1/4 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes
  • 8 ounces fresh spinach leaves
  • 4 ounces ( 1 and 1/4 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour, plus extra for the counter and trays
  • 1 ounce rye flour (1/3 cup), or additional all-purpose flour if preferred
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the sauce:

  • 1 slice stale rye bread
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing the baking dish
  • 1 pound yellow onions, thinly sliced

To cook the gnocchi:

  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1/4 pound Toma delle Langhe, Fontina, or Raclette, rind removed, grated

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Make the gnocchi: Place the potatoes in a pot of cool water to cover and bring to a boil. Cook until tender when pierced with a knife, about 25 minutes. Remove to a tray and reserve the cooking water.

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Pass the potatoes through a ricer onto a counter and allow to cool to room temperature (if you make the gnocchi while the potatoes are still hot, they will “sweat” and require additional flour, making them heavy rather than light).

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Return the potato cooking water to a boil. Add the spinach and cook until tender, about 3 minutes. Drain, discarding the cooking water. Squeeze VERY DRY with your hands and chop finely.

Bring 1 quart of water to a boil.

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On a counter, combine the riced potatoes, chopped spinach, all-purpose flour, rye flour, salt, and pepper. Gather gently into a dough; if the dough is sticky, add more all-purpose flour; if it is dry, add a touch of water. (Remember: you can always add flour, but you can never take it away, so be cautious when adding flour.) Don’t knead the dough, as the potatoes are naturally moist and they will make the dough feel sticky.

When the dough seems to be of the right texture, snip off a piece and test it in the boiling water: drop it in the boiling water until it floats to the surface, remove with a slotted spoon, taste, and adjust the texture of the gnocchi as needed, adding a bit more flour if they are too soft and falling apart, or a bit of water if they are too dry.

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Shape the gnocchi: Roll the dough into 1-inch wide logs on a lightly floured counter and cut into 1-inch pieces. Arrange in a single layer on a lightly floured tray.

Make the sauce: Process the bread into crumbs into fine bread crumbs in a food processor; toss with 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and set aside.

Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a 12-inch nonstick skillet, add the onions, and season with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Cook until caramelized, stirring often, about 25 minutes over medium-low heat; set aside.

Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter in a small pan and keep warm. Butter a large baking dish and set it aside.

Cook the gnocchi: Preheat the oven to 325° (preferably set on convection). Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil. Add the salt.

Drop in the gnocchi and cook until they float to the surface. Remove with a slotted spoon to the buttered baking dish.

To bake: Top with the caramelized onions, and pour on the melted butter. Scatter the Toma over the gnocchi and top with the rye bread crumbs. Bake for 10 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and the bread crumbs are golden, and serve hot.

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Farro with Roasted Eggplant, Tomatoes, Onions, & Many Herbs

If I had to pick just one whole grain to cook with (and thank goodness I don’t have to!!), I would likely pick farro. It is so versatile: robust in salads, soothing in soups, toothsome in risotto-style dishes. It has a decidedly firm bite when cooked al dente, and can be toasted lightly in olive oil or butter before adding liquid, to intensify its nutty flavor.

Feel free to experiment with other seasonal vegetables instead of the more summery eggplants and tomatoes below; my farmer’s market still had beautiful end-of-summer produce a week ago, but butternut or acorn squash would be lovely instead, as would shiitake mushrooms, beets, or even cauliflower. Just roast the vegetables of your choice until tender while you boil the farro, then combine and enjoy.

Serves 2 as a main course, 4 as a side dish

For the vegetables:

  • 2 Japanese eggplants, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 12 grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 medium yellow onion, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the farro:

  • ¾ cup farro
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt, plus extra as needed
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus extra as needed
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • ½ cup mixed fresh herbs (basil, oregano, Italian parsley, chives, oregano, cilantro, mint, and tarragon)

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Make the vegetables: Preheat the oven to 375° (preferably set on convection bake).

Line an 11-inch x 17-inch baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss the vegetables with the olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Roast the vegetables for 30 to 35 minutes, or until just tender (the eggplants will take the longest to cook through; undercooked eggplants are spongy and bitter, so be sure to cook them all the way through). Set aside.

Meanwhile, make the farro: Bring 3 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the farro and cook until chewy but tender, about 30 minutes. Drain and rinse under cool water to stop the cooking, then drain thoroughly and place in a large bowl. Add the olive oil, salt, and pepper. Mix well and set aside.

Finely mince the garlic with the mixed herbs until very fine. Stir into the farro along with the roasted vegetables, taste for salt and pepper, and adjust as needed. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.

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