Wayyyy back in January I made some gnocchi Parisienne for Cheryl’s birthday dinner. Well one of them. It was much more decadent than this dish since there were copious amounts of black truffles shaved on them. Cheryl remarked that it would be ok if I made gnocchi Parisienne more often. I was flipping through Michael White’s Classico e Moderno trying to figure out what to make for Sunday dinner a couple of weeks ago and saw a recipe for gnocchi with walnut and gorgozola cream sauce. I wasn’t in the mood to do the whole potato thing and I also didn’t want to use pre-made, so, remembering Cheryl’s words I decided it would be a good time to make the gnocchi Parisienne again. And she says I don’t listen!
Gnocchi Parisienne aren’t made with potatoes. Instead they are made with a variation of pâte choux, the same dough you make eclairs or profiteroles with, but with a slight change. Yeah it’s not ‘true’ gnocchi like in Italy but in terms of preparation it’s much easier, quicker, and less of a mess. The gnocchi are very light and fluffy and cook fast. While you can prepare them like traditional hand rolled gnocchi I prefer the quick and easy method of piping the dough out over simmering water and cutting off pieces into the water.
One thing about the dough is it’s a blank canvas. You can flavor it with whatever you like. I like adding in one of my favorite herbs, thyme. It’s a good flavor and can go with pretty much any kind of sauce you want to add the gnocchi to. Cheese and cream sauces especially.
As for cooking the gnocchi you can either stop when it’s finished simmering and add to a sauce or sauté in butter and crisp them up. I like the latter method because the browning process also takes some water out making the gnocchi even lighter. Careful on the browning though, don’t go too long or your gnocchi will get really light and puffy, almost airlike. Remember, it’s a pastry dough!
Take note on the pesto: no basil. It’s made with parsley instead. Personally I think this ok and a nice alternative, especially during winter and early spring. And let’s be honest, the best basil pesto is one which you make from the basil you grow in your garden in summertime. Leave the basil for summer when you can pick it yourself form your own basil plant.
Gnocchi Parisienne with Walnut & Gorgonzola Sauce (4 appetizer sized servings/2 dinner sized)
- 6 oz water
- 4 oz butter (1 stick)
- 4 oz flour
- 4 large eggs (8 oz)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1-2 Tbs dried French Thyme
Put the water, butter, and salt in a medium sized saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat on the stove. Stir in the flour. It will quickly absorb the liquid and form a dough. Continue stirring for about a minute or two in order to cook out some of the water.
Remove pot from stove and allow dough to cool a little. You want it warm to accept the eggs but not cook the eggs. Using a fork or spoon whisk in the eggs one at a time. The dough will get slick and shiny but will return to a stickier dough once the egg is incorporated. The dough is ready once all the eggs are in and the dough looks ‘furry.’
Spoon the dough into a large Ziploc bag and cut out a small piece of the corner.
Bring a large pot of water (preferably a wide one) to boil over medium high heat.
Squeeze your makeshift pastry bag and cut off ½ inch pieces directly into the water. Don’t overcrowd the pot, do this in a couple phases until the bag is empty.
Cook the pieces for 1-2 minutes after they float to the top of the water. Remove with a slotted spoon and set on a tray lined with paper towels to dry.
Set aside until ready to use. Can be frozen or refrigerated.
For the sauce and pesto (adapted from Michael White’s Classico e Moderno)
- 1 shallot, minced
- 3 Tbs butter
- 4 oz gorgonzola, crumbled
- 8 oz heavy cream
- Ground black pepper to taste
- ½ C parlsey
- 2 cloves garlic
- ¼ C walnuts
- ¼ C olive oil
- ¼ C Parmigianino, grated
- Salt to taste
First, make your pesto. Combine the parsley, garlic, walnuts, cheese in a food processor and blend. Slowly drizzle in the oil. Add salt to taste. Set aside until ready to serve.
On to the gnocchi.
In a large skillet, over medium heat melt the butter. Add the gnocchi in one layer. Lower heat to medium-low and let the gnocchi develop a crust. This means LEAVE IT ALONE! It will take patience to not touch the gnocchi. You’re going to want to. Don’t. When they start to brown a little you can turn them over.
After you turn them over add the shallot and cook for a couple minutes.
Next add the cream and stir in the gorgonzola. Simmer for a minute, allowing the sauce to thicken. Season with pepper and salt (if needed, doubt it with the gorgonzola but check).
Spoon into bowls or onto a plate and top with some of the parsley pesto.