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Sunflakes

 

There is enough snow in enough places today for me to share this delightful poem with you. It is about snow. Kinda. Sorta.

But for those who prefer warmer weather and sunshine this delightful poem has something for you too.

You will need your imagination to fully enjoy this poem.

            Sunflakes

If sunlight fell like snowflakes,
Gleaming yellow and so bright,
We could build a sunman,
  we could have a sunball fight,
We could watch sunflakes
drifting in the sky.
We could go sleighing
in the middle of July
   Through sundrifts and sunbanks,
we could ride a sunmobile,
and we could touch sunflakes –
I wonder how they’d feel. 

           Frank Asch ~ Author

Featured Recipe        Gnocchi with Tomato Sauce

My first introduction to gnocchi was in a small restaurant nearWesterville,Ohio. They had a marvelous dish of gnocchi in an au gratin dish with tomato sauce and cheese on top. Part of the delight was the great tomato sauce.

It was a very simple and basic dish. There was nothing fancy about it. It was all about the gnocchi, the tomato sauce, and the cheese. Simplicity. Simplicity. Simplicity!

Whenever I went to that restaurant that was what I ordered. I am so predictable.

The restaurant closed and I have never found anything like it since. Came close once inChicago, but cannot remember where. Or was itDenver?

I have played around with gnocchi ever since and this recipe is the closest I have been able to get to that wonderful first introduction.

Gnocchi are just small dumplings made with potatoes. They are delicious and very filling.

This is what you will need for 4 people:

1-16 ounce box gnocchi (or home made*)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 – 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes

½  cup Sweet Vermouth or water

1-2 small cloves garlic

1 small onion grated

Shredded Mozzarella cheese to taste**

Grated Parmesan cheese to taste**

Spray oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Optional for garnish only: 4 basil leaves (not pictured.)

*If you have the time.

** I use about 1 tablespoon on each dish, or 4 total of each cheese.

ALSO NEEDED: You will also need four au gratin dishes OR four ovenproof dishes.

You will also need a garlic press and a fine grater.

Here is what you do:

Put a large pot of lightly salted water up to boil first so that the water is boiling at around the same time the tomato sauce is getting thick.

NOTE: You want to aim for having the gnocchi cooked at about the same time as your sauce is ready so that the gnocchi stay warm. You don’t want them to sit around getting cold while you wait for the sauce to thicken up.

Heat the oil over medium low heat.  Peel the garlic. Using a hand grater held over the sauté pan grate the onion straight into the pan with olive oil. NOTE: Grate as much of the onion as you can without grateing your own fingers.

Can you see the teeny-tiny pieces of onion?

Using a press add the garlic to the pan too. Mix the onion and the garlic together and sauté until you can begin to smell the garlic, stirring often, about 1-2 minutes.

Add the crushed tomatoes and  the vermouth. Raise the heat to medium high and cook until you see the sauce begin to bubble.

Then turn down the heat to medium and simmer the sauce about 20-30 minutes or until the sauce begins to thicken. Check for seasonings; and add salt and pepper if desired.

By now the pot of water should be boiling. Cook the gnocchi according to the package directions. This does not take long, 2-4 minutes. You will not have to worry when the gnocchi is done. When it is, the gnnochi  float to the top of the water. Isn’t that so convenient!!!

I use a large circular spoon with holes in it to remove the gnocchi from the water and place them in a bowl right away. There is a name for that kind of spoon but being the non-professional cook that I am, heck if I know what it is.

Heat your oven to 250 degrees now.

Spray a very, very, very small amount of the spray oil in the bottom of the au gratin dish, or whatever kind of dish you use. Using your fingers spread the oil across the bottom of the dish. This is so the gnocchi do not stick to the plate while in the oven.

Divide the gnocchi between the four au gratin dishes or what ever ind of dishes you are using.

Top the gnocchi with some of the tomato sauce.

Then add some Mozzarella on top of the sauce; and then the Parmesan cheese on top of the Mozzarella.

Place the au gratin dishes on a baking sheet and put into the oven [Sorry. No picture. I forgot!] for about 5-6 minutes until the cheese is melted. Like me, you may have to do this in two batches.

NOTE: Do not bake the gnocchi. You just want the cheese to melt and be sure that the gnocchi and sauce are warm. So 5-6 minutes should be plenty of time.

Remove from the oven and serve in the au gratin dishes with a salad and some garlic bread. I added a leaf of basil for garnish.

Bon appétit!!!

Cost 

1-16 ounce box gnocchi                    $3.18

2 tablespoons olive oil                      $0.24

1 – 28 oz can crushed tomatoes        $1.99

½ cup Sweet Vermouth                   $0.76

1-2 small cloves garlic                      $0.08

1 small onion grated                        $0.15

Shredded Mozzarella                       $1.76

Grated Parmesan                            $1.76

Spray oil                                        $0.08

Salt and pepper to taste

Total cost =$9.91
Cost per serving =$2.48

An elegant little dish for only $2.48 a serving, wouldn’t you say?

Quote of the Day

Life is a combination of magic and pasta.

Federico Fellini

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