Friday, March 4, 2011

Food For Thought

Being a mom of little people, we eat a lot of pasta.  A lot.  Several times a week.  Not counting lunch.

Noodles are a tried and true part of any preschooler's diet and so to make sure that at least part of our meals are consumed in a timely fashion, I frequently serve some sort of pasta dish.  Also, as the kids have grown, it has been helpful to have pasta on hand to fill their bottomless-pit bellies!  There are meals when I wonder if Aaron and Norah will ever get enough to eat!  Seconds ... thirds ... eek!  Is there anything left?!?

Around our table, we enjoy spaghetti, macaroni, rigatoni and ziti.  The kids aren't terribly big fans of tortelini or ravioli ("I don't like the yucky stuff inside."  "The yummy, cheesy good stuff? Okay ... more for Mom!") so we steer clear of that usually.  But even with a wide variety of squirly, twirly noodles ... even that gets boring.

In a quest to freshen up our pasta meals, I discovered gnocchi.  And fell in love!  Delicious little bites of pasta heaven!  Here are two very different recipes staring my new favorite pasta:  Gnummy, Gnummy Gnocchi.  Enjoy!

Gnocchi Alfredo
(This recipe is from Taste of Home, Aug/Sept. 2009 ... with a few adjustments.)

2 lbs. potato gnocchi (I bought the vacuum sealed pouches in the pasta aisle.)
3 T. butter
1 T + 1 1/2 t. flour
1 1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup parmesan cheese (from the green can!)
1 cups baby spinach
Ground nutmeg
1/2 lb. mushrooms, sliced

Set a large pot of water to boil.  Gnocchi cook very quickly, so don't boil them until your sauce is ready.

For the sauce, melt 1 T. butter in a small pot.  Stir in the flour and whisk until the mixture is smooth.  Gradually add the milk and whisk well, removing any lumps.  Bring this mixture to a boil and cook for 2 minutes, or until thickened (stirring constantly).  Remove the creamy mixture from the heat and add a dash of nutmeg and the parmesan cheese.  Put a lid on this and set it off to the side.

Add the gnocchi to the boiling water and cook until they start to float.  Drain the gnocchi.  In the same large pot that you cooked the gnocchi, melt the remaining 2 T. butter and saute the mushrooms, spinach and pasta until they are lightly browned, about 4-5 minutes.

This, alone, smelled divine!
Serve the gnocchi with a drizzle of cheese sauce.  Yum!

And tasted divine, too!

Gnocchi & Veggies
(This recipe is from Food Network Magazine, Feb/Mar 2009 ... with the usual tweaks.)

4 slices of bacon, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 pound ground beef
4 T. red wine
3 shallots, chopped
1 cup diced carrots
1 stalk celery, sliced
2 T. tomato paste
Salt and pepper
15 oz. can of dice tomatoes
1 cup chicken broth
1 bay leaf
2 strips of orange peel
2/3 cup kalamata olives, chopped
1 lb. gnocchi

Heat a medium-sized skillet and cook the bacon and garlic.  When crispy, add the beef and cook until no longer pink.  Add the red wine, shallots, carrots, celery and tomato paste.  Cook until the veggies are softened, about 5 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.

Waiting for the veggies to soften.

Add the tomatoes with the juices, broth, bay leaf, orange peel and olives.  Bring this mixture to a simmer, cover the pan and let cook for about 20 minutes.  Next, uncover the pan, turn the hit to medium hight and bring to a boil.  Stir occasionally until the sauce is thickened.  Remove the orange peel and bay leaf.

Waiting for the sauce to thicken.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and prepare the gnocchi according to the package directions.  When the gnocchi is cooked, drain it and add to the sauce.  Delish!

Waiting to eat it all up!


  1. We are HUGE pasta lovers, too! And this reminds me to try some tortellini and gnocci with them!

  2. Yum! I love pasta ever since my childhood! Perhaps I may have to steal these to fill my tummy!

  3. Yum!

    We love pasta here, too.

    In fact tonight I'm making baked ziti.

  4. We eat a lot of pasta around here too and I loveeeeeee gnocchi!

  5. Morgan! Yum! These recipes look amazingly delicious. We love pasta around here too, but it can feel a little overdone. I've never dabbled in gnocchi...just always wanted to. Giada always made it look so easy and delicious...and now you have too.

    Thanks for the inspiration!

  6. Yummy!! I love trying new pasta recipes. Thank you for linking-up at
    Make a Food-"e"-Friend Monday
    . No worries... I took care of the link issue for you! :) Hope you have a great week!


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