10 classes, 9 months, and 2 semesters later, I have finally finished my first year of law school. What better way to celebrate than to pick back up with the things I love, namely cooking, photography, and this blog. And now that I’m “free” I also get to enjoy America’s Finest City, so I thought I would kick off my come-back with some tid-bits about San Diego. In my opinion, the neighborhoods are the best part of San Diego. All around the city are amazing street signs boasting their community’s names, and most every neighborhood has a farmers market. Not surprisingly, my favorite is in Little Italy.
Last Saturday, my friend (and guest photographer/cook) Michelle and I went to Little Italy’s farmers market. It is held every Saturday from 9 am to 1:30 pm. I knew I wanted to make this recipe, and I thought this would be the best place to get the ingredients. Plus, you can practically eat lunch by sampling all the vendor’s fresh produce and products. First, we got a mix of shredded cheese from Taste Cheese for the pasta. Then, we split “the exquisite” panini from Seb’s Panini for lunch (with a blood orange Pellegrino, of course). Finally, we took a detour down India St. to Mona Lisa Italian Foods. The deli sells Italian products, so I bought semolina flour, passata di pomodoro, and a bottle of Chianti. It was successful trip and I almost felt like I was back at the Mercato Centrale…
This was the first recipe I learned in my Italian cooking class. While making pasta can take a while, if you have the time I highly recommend trying it. You can really taste the difference. Plus, it is highly satisfying to perfect the process. I will never forget the first time I made gnocchi with my friend Diana and her grandmother when we were in high school. After rolling about 50 dough pieces on a fork, I finally figured out how to make the ridges. But if you are in a rush, pick up some gnocchi from the store and just make the sauce – it is equally as delicious!
- 2 lbs potatoes
- 1 egg
- 2 1/4 cups flour (I used semolina, but all-purpose is fine)
- 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
- Grated nutmeg
- Kosher salt
- 4 cups Passata di Pomodoro (or tomato puree)
- 3 large red bell peppers, cut into thin strips
- 3 scallions, finely sliced
- 2 tablespoons salted capers
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 glass white wine
- Kosher salt
For the gnocchi: Boil the potatoes until tender. When cool, remove the skins and mash the potatoes in a large bowl (I used a large grater). Add the flour, egg, a big pinch of salt and nutmeg, and the Parmesan. Mix and knead to make the dough. You can also do this with a standing mixer and a dough hook. Once the dough forms a ball, transfer to a flour-dusted counter-top. The dough will be a little sticky, so don’t worry. Divide the dough into small sections and roll it out into ropes (you will have quite a few). Each roll should be about 1/2″ thick. Slice the rolls at 1″ intervals to make the pasta pieces. Finally, roll each piece over the tongs of a fork to give them the typical groove shape. This part will take a while and I suggest finding a friend to help you out. But again, it’s worth it!
For the sauce: Saute the scallions in olive oil for a minute. Add the capers and bell pepper. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes. Add a big pinch of salt and the wine. Let the wine evaporate, then add the passata di pomodoro. Cook for a few more minutes and season to taste. Meanwhile bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook the gnocchi in batches* for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the gnocchi with a slotted spoon when they rise to the surface. Reserve the boiling water for the next batch. When finished, garnish with the sauce and Parmesan cheese to serve.
*Since this recipe makes a lot, I saved 1/2 of the uncooked pasta in the refrigerator for one day. If you do this, go ahead a make all the sauce and reserve some for the leftover pasta.