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Dinner Date

Jan 28, 2011 09:43AM, Published by Style, Categories: In Print


Wine bottle photo by Aaron Roseli. All other photos courtesy of Cronicle Books.



Homemade Ricotta Gnocchi with Orange, Sage, and Brown Butter Sauce and a Watercress and Blood Orange Salad

Cooking for Two: Perfect Meals for Pairs by Jessica Strand

Photographs by Caren Alpert
(Chronicle Books, 2008, $19.95)

  • 2 cups fresh whole milk ricotta cheese, drained in a sieve for 2-3 hours
  • 1 1/3 cups freshly grated Parmesan
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt, plus more to taste
  • Freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 bunches watercress, cleaned and stemmed
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly grated and finely chopped blood orange zest, plus the peeled and sliced segments from 1 blood orange (about 12-16 sections)
  • Pepper to taste
  • 4 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 10 fresh sage leaves

In a large bowl combine the ricotta, Parmesan, eggs, and flour. Add the salt and nutmeg and keep mixing until a soft dough forms.
Flour a flat surface and turn the dough onto the surface. Roll the dough into two long 14- to 16-inch ropes (each about 1 inch in diameter); sprinkle with flour if the dough is too sticky. Cut each rope into 18-20 pieces. Press the tines of a fork into each piece to create an indent. Place the finished gnocchi on a piece of parchment or waxed paper next to the stove.

In a medium bowl whisk together the olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Add the watercress and blood orange segments. Toss until the leaves and oranges are coated in the dressing. Season with pepper, to taste.

Bring a medium pot of water to boil. Add the gnocchi in two batches, cooking each batch for 5-6 minutes or until they begin to expand and rise to the surface of the water. In a medium saucepan melt 1 tablespoon of the butter, then add the sage leaves and let brown for 2-3 minutes, or until crispy. Set the leaves aside to drain on a paper towel.

Melt the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter in the same saucepan. Add the blood orange zest to the butter and continue to cook the butter until it is light brown, about 2-3 minutes. Add the cooked gnocchi to the sauce, carefully spooning the sauce over them.

On two large dinner plates place a large pillow of greens dotted with the blood oranges, and next to them place 10-12 of the gnocchi. Drizzle the gnocchi with the brown butter and garnish with the crispy sage leaves, then serve.


Isole E Olena Chianti Classico 2006

Much has been written about Paolo de Marchi, the most respected producer of wine in Central Italy. He took over his family’s estate at age 20 and over the decades, turned it into one of Tuscany’s true gems. Careful vineyard development and concise refinement of winemaking techniques make Paolo’s wines some of the most honest, delicious and food-worthy wines in Tuscany.

Isole E Olena Chianti Classico 2006 is a very compellingly delicious vintage of this Chianti. An exceptional food wine, as well as a drinking one, its medium body, fine balance of delicate cherry flavors and silky tannins go well with most red meats and chicken, and pairs famously with all pasta dishes.

Rick Mindermann
Rick is Store Director of Corti Brothers in Sacramento,  personal assistant to Darrell Corti, and  “The Good Taste Guy” for oodleboxtv.com.


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