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Hazelnut Gnocchi with Gorgonzola Sauce

Hazelnut Gnocchi with Creamy Gorgonzola Sauce

This month, q.b. cucina is celebrating all things Piedmont.

In researching typical dishes from this region, I came across Gnocchi al Castelmagno–a simple gnocchi dish that uses one of Piedmont’s most famous cheeses called Castelmagno D.O.P. It’s an ancient cheese that’s produced in the province of Cuneo, exclusively from the milk of the Piedmontese cattle variety. A semi-hard, half-fat cheese, Castelmagno has a strong, sharp flavor, especially as it ages.

Needless to say, it’s rare and unique making it hard to find outside of Italy!

So I got to work looking up possible substitutions in order to create a gnocchi dish that was comparable but still paid homage to the region of Piedmont. What I landed on was using gorgonzola instead. Although not exactly the same, it’s a long-distant cousin to Castelmagno and works wonderfully with gnocchi.

To add even more Piedmontese identity to this dish, I’ve added one of the region’s most important ingredients: hazelnuts. Toasted, ground hazelnuts add a nutty flavor and coarse texture to the gnocchi, but you could easily replace them with ground walnuts or pecans, or simply omit them and use an equal weight in flour instead.

Hazlenut Gnocchi with Creamy Gorgonzola Sauce

Serves 4

Special Equipment

Potato ricer; gnocchi board

Ingredients

For the Hazelnut Gnocchi:

400 grams (.88 pounds) Russet potatoes
150 grams (1 ⅝ cup) all-purpose flour, sifted
50 grams (½ cup) hazelnuts, ground into a meal
1 whole egg, slightly beaten (at room temperature)
A pinch of kosher salt

For the Gorgonzola Sauce:

300 grams of Gorgonzola
½ cup fresh cream
salt, to taste
a pinch of nutmeg
4 tablespoons of crushed, toasted hazelnuts

Method

To make the gnocchi:

Boil potatoes, whole and unpeeled, in a large pot of water for about 30 minutes, or just until soft enough to prick with a fork.

Drain well and set aside for about 15 minutes or until cool enough to handle. Peel the potatoes with your hands (the skin should come off easily).

Using a potato ricer or the grater attachment of a food processor, rice/grate each potato. Spread the riced potatoes out on a tray to dry out a bit, about 30 minutes to an hour.

Dump the riced potatoes onto a clean work surface. Add egg to the middle of the riced potatoes and gently mix with a fork, just until it starts to come together.

Sprinkle in half of the flour over the mixture and gently fold it in, like you might fold a blanket or towel. Fold over one side, press down gently, then turn the dough 90 degrees and fold again. Add the hazelnut meal along with the remaining cup more flour, and continue folding the dough until it forms one cohesive mass and no longer sticks to your hands. It should be smooth, soft, and supple.

It’s important to not over-knead the dough. Just knead until the flour is fully incorporated and you have a soft, pillowy mass of dough.

Pinch off an egg-size piece of dough. Using the palm of your hands, roll it out into a rope, about ¾ inch round in diameter.

Using a knife or a pastry scraper, cut the rope into small cubes, about ¾ inch in size all the way around.

Using your index finger, gently roll each gnocchi over the back of a fork, a gnocchi board, or a cheese grater to create more texture.

Place each gnocchi on a floured tray and cover with a kitchen towel. They can sit out for about 2-3 hours.

To prepare the sauce:

Place the gorgonzola and cream in a saucepan and turn on low. Heat just until the cheese melts, stirring occasionally. Add nutmeg and salt, to taste.

To assemble the dish:
Boil gnocchi in a large pot of salted, boiling water for about 3-5 minutes, or until the gnocchi start to float to the top. Use a slotted spoon to transfer gnocchi to the blue cheese sauce. Gently stir to coat.

Serve warm with a sprinkle of crushed hazelnuts on top.

Buon appetito!

Hazelnut Gnocchi with Creamy Gorgonzola - qb cucina

Hazelnut Gnocchi with Creamy Gorgonzola Sauce

Prep Time: 90 Minutes
Cooking Time: 10 Minutes
Total time: 1 Hour 40 Minutes
Servings: 4
Hazelnut gnocchi with gorgonzola sauce - q.b. cucina recipe

Ingredients

For the Hazelnut Gnocchi:
  • 400 grams (.88 pounds) Russet potatoes
  • 150 grams (1 ⅝ cup) all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 50 grams (½ cup) hazelnuts, ground into a meal
  • 1 whole egg, slightly beaten, at room temperature
  • A pinch of kosher salt
For the Gorgonzola Sauce:
  • 300 grams (10.5 ounces) of Gorgonzola
  • ½ cup fresh cream
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • a pinch of ground nutmeg
  • 4 tablespoons of crushed, toasted hazelnuts for serving

Instructions

1. Boil potatoes, whole and unpeeled, in a large pot of water for about 30 minutes, or just until soft enough to prick with a fork.
2. Drain well and set aside for about 15 minutes or until cool enough to handle. Peel the potatoes with your hands (the skin should come off easily).
3. Using a potato ricer or the grater attachment of a food processor, rice/grate each potato. Spread the riced potatoes out on a tray to dry out a bit, about 30 minutes to an hour.
4. Dump the riced potatoes onto a clean work surface. Add egg to the middle of the riced potatoes and gently mix with a fork, just until it starts to come together.
5. Sprinkle in half of the flour over the mixture and gently fold it in, like you might fold a blanket or towel. Fold over one side, press down gently, then turn the dough 90 degrees and fold again. Add the hazelnut meal along with the remaining cup more flour, and continue folding the dough until it forms one cohesive mass and no longer sticks to your hands. It should be smooth, soft, and supple.
6. Pinch off an egg-size piece of dough. Using the palm of your hands, roll it out into a rope, about ¾ inch round in diameter.
7. Using a knife or a pastry scraper, cut the rope into small cubes, about ¾ inch in size all the way around.
8. Using your index finger, gently roll each gnocchi over the back of a fork, a gnocchi board, or a cheese grater to create more texture.
9. Place each gnocchi on a floured tray and cover with a kitchen towel. They can sit out for about 2-3 hours.
10. To prepare the sauce, place the gorgonzola and cream in a saucepan and turn on low. Heat just until the cheese melts, stirring occasionally. Add nutmeg and salt, to taste.
11. Boil gnocchi in a large pot of salted, boiling water for about 3-5 minutes, or until the gnocchi start to float to the top. Use a slotted spoon to transfer gnocchi to the blue cheese sauce. Gently stir to coat.
12. Serve warm with a sprinkle of crushed hazelnuts on top.
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