My dad is a meat man. Not only is he a meat man, he’s a grill man. More than anything, he’s a steak man. He grills steaks out about four times a week, on an average, sometimes more, sometimes less, but if it’s less, then he’s usually grilling some other form of meat (sausage, quail, chicken) in its place. He eats pasta and enjoys it enough, but his first taste of gnocchi (which I of course love, coming from dough) was a dish I had ordered at a restaurant, and he hated it. He called them “little dough balls.” He couldn’t pronounce the word correctly, and instead has since referred to them by this title.
That was about five years ago, and in that time I have gone to cooking school in Italy and came home to make him goat cheese gnocchi, which he actually enjoyed, and I, of course, ate them like candy. There’s something about the doughyness of gnocchi, I am a pasta-addict, but gnocchi go the extra mile and combine pasta with a hint of a thick, plump bread. It’s fun to bite through a piece of tender gnocchi, thicker than pasta but still retaining a similar taste.
So I began to brainstorm again, thinking of shades of white, and again asked for some help from Dan (as much as I love to cook, and bake, and make and mix and stir things, I’m simply no good at throwing random ingredients together and coming up with something brilliant. I like to stick to my recipes, sometimes adding a little more vanilla than called for, but I need something concrete to follow). For the gnocchi I strayed. I would go out on a limb (while Dan held onto me, of course), and we came up with orange and almond gnocchi.
45 g ground almonds
3-4 tablespoons powdered sugar (I kept adding this to the mixing bowl and it’s so light the scale didn’t register at all, hence the tablespoons instead of grams)
zest from at least half a large orange
liberal pinch of salt
20-25 g flour and extra for rolling
large pat of butter
a few glugs of Amaretto
juice from half an orange
First, I bought a container of ricotta that was 250 grams, used a little to test the gnocchi, and found that it was too runny, so following other recipes I’d looked over (see, I need that direction), I drained what was left by pouring it into a fine-mesh sieve on top of a larger bowl, which I then covered with Saran wrap and stuck in the fridge overnight. When I measured it out, it was 170 grams. Put it in a mixing bowl and add the ground almonds. Mix together, then put in the powdered sugar, depending on how sweet you want it, 3 or 4 tablespoons. Stick your finger in there and make sure it tastes good. Mix in the zest and a large pinch of salt (Dan says this really brings out the almond flavor), and finally mix in the flour. I say 20-25 grams because it depends on the consistency, you want them to be soft, but not too gooey you can’t roll them. (Some people hesitate to put lots of flour in their gnocchi, which I did at first and then ended up with some mushy gnocchi which ended up falling apart. If you’re one of those people that doesn’t like floury gnocchi, you can add a little more ground almonds and a little less flour). Finally, on a floured surface (marble, parchment, something flat and smooth) take the dough and roll out into a log under your hands. You’ll probably have to take it in sections because as you roll, it becomes longer and hard to deal with big pieces. Roll to about the circumference of your thumb, and then taking a knife cut into little one-inch pieces.
Note: The finished product, as you can see, is not exactly white, but I guess that falls under the theme Shades of White. I was thinking of taking a picture of my actual whites (ricotta, ground almonds, flour, powdered sugar, salt) but I thought better of it and I'm sure yall all appreciate it more that I didn't. So my Orange and Almond Gnocchi is a lovely orangey shade of white. And thanks to Dan for being a taste-tester, although he borders on salt-obsessed and eats a whole plate of gnocchi before giving you his opinion.