Working on the deck in a tank top under the warm sun while guzzling Mexican Cokes is enough to make me want to call in sick for the whole summer. All I want to do is drink cocktails on a lawn chair, cook up a storm and garden until I pass out. We took a ride to Home Depot this weekend to buy a big box of starter plants and a car load of wood to build new planters. Alan power-sawed the planks behind a cloud of wood dust as I dug dirt out of planters and nudged baby plants into the holes.
The day before, we shared our first hot Cubano sandwich of the season at Habana Outpost and rinsed it down with slushy margaritas, the ones that they pour out of those spinning slushie machines. I finished off the weekend by making Giada De Laurentiis’s cheese-based gnocchi because they seemed like a simpler and quicker version of gnocchi, perfect for a post-gardening workout. Aside from showering my dress with flour and almost adding an egg white instead of an egg yolk, the recipe went swimmingly.
These gnocchi are creamy, fluffy and decadent with a fresh burst of lemon zest. I highly recommend eating all of these (not by yourself) immediately after cooking them because leftovers will be on the spongy side the next day. They’re highly cheesy so you won’t need to eat more than a single serving. If you’re only cooking for one or two people, I’d suggest cutting the recipe down accordingly. Have fun gnocchi-ing.
RECIPE (Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis’s Mascarpone and Lemon Gnocchi Recipe)
Makes 4 servings
1 cup mascarpone, at room temperature (8 ounces)
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 large lemons, zested
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese (4 ounces)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus 1/4 cup extra for for dusting the gnocchi
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan, for serving
TO MAKE THE GNOCCHI:
1. In a large bowl, combine the mascarpone, egg, egg yolk, nutmeg, lemon zest, Parmesan, and salt. Using a hand mixer, beat on medium speed until creamy and smooth, about 1 minute. Gradually beat in 3/4 cup flour until the mixture forms a soft dough.
2. Sprinkle a rimmed baking sheet with the 1/4 cup of flour. Using 2 small spoons, form 1 teaspoon-sized ovals of dough and drop them onto the the baking sheet. Shake the sheet gently to coat the gnocchi completely in a light dusting of flour. Continue this process until all of the gnocchi have been formed and dusted with flour.
3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a simmer (not a rough boil). In batches, carefully add the gnocchi with a large spoon. The gnocchi should sink and then float to the top. As soon as the gnocchi begin to float, cook for 5 to 6 minutes. Drain and place in a large serving bowl.
TO MAKE THE SAUCE:
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, warm the oil and salt over medium-high heat for 1 1/2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the basil. Let the mixture sit for 5 minutes to allow the flavors to blend.
Add the sauce and cheese to the gnocchi and gently toss until coated. Serve immediately.
Photos by Alan Foreman