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Playing with your food is a good thing

Playing with your food is a good thing
By Sherry Schie, Chef/Owner of Jazzy Cooking

As a kid, did you have a fascination for playing with your food? I did! Sitting at the kitchen table, I just wanted to pick up my food with my fingers, stack my food into a pyramid, or flatten food with my fork until it was totally flat. You name, I did it! But, mom or dad would always say that favorite parent phrase, “Quit playing with your food!”
Why? That was usually my answer, and it’s still my answer. Why not play with my food, or at least play with it… while making it!? And what better food to play with but gnocchi!

I’m definitely a pasta girl; I MUST have Italian in my blood! Gnocchi is one of those true Italian comfort foods, except now that I’m really into “clean eating” (remember, we talked about this in another blog… clean eating means, I eat “good for me” foods; foods without processing), I try to revamp high calorie and high fat dishes into healthier versions. Gnocchi is one of those dishes that I decided to play around with… pun intended!

Traditional gnocchi recipes are made with mashed or riced potatoes. Pretty starchy dish, but tasty. So, I started looking for recipes that would be a littler cleaner, and I found one! This recipe doesn’t have any potatoes in it at all. The base of the recipe is ricotta cheese and since I’m having fun cleaning up recipes, I use low fat ricotta cheese in this recipe. I changed the recipe a little, but it’s still full of flavor and goes with just about any kind of sauce!

OK, so getting back to playing with our food… Once you mix up the dough for your gnocchi, now comes the fun part - playing with it! You get to roll the dough in a big ball. Roll the dough into a long rope-style log, and then you get to cut it, and then roll it again on a gnocchi board or a fork! LOTS of play time with this food!!

Please don’t let these steps scare you off because making gnocchi doesn’t take that long, really. And, it’s SO worth the little bit of work… or play, involved! Just ask my friend Natalie - I shared this recipe with her and she went home and made it right away. She loved it! She loved it so much, that she sent me this picture of her gnocchi! Great job Natalie!

This gnocchi recipe will go with just about any type of sauce; garlic and butter sauce, Putanesca sauce, tomato sauce, you choose and you won’t be disappointed!
So, the next time your kids or grandkids start playing with their food, and you catch yourself wanting to say those words… just stop and let them play… who knows, they just might become a chef some day!

Until next time,
Chef Sherry

Ricotta Cheese:
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 egg
1 teaspoon nutmeg
½ cup finely grated parmesan
½ to 1 cup flour, as needed

Bring a pot of salted water to a simmer.
Whisk the ricotta cheese with the egg until fluffy.
Stir in nutmeg and parmesan in the cheese mixture, turn out onto a floured board, and then knead in just enough flour to make the dough pliable and not sticky. Do not over mix!

Roll the dough into long strands about 3/4-inch in diameter. Cut into pieces about 1 1/2-inch long, and then press down on both sides of each gnocchi with a fork or roll on gnocchi board, to form shallow grooves.

Drop the gnocchi in the simmering water and cook just until they float, about 1 to 2 minutes.
Serve hot with sauce, or cover with cheese and broil for a few minutes.
YIELD: 40 to 50 gnocchi

Tue, Apr 24th 2012, 16:21

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