9.24.2014

Ricotta Gnocchi with Tomatoes and Crispy Italian Sausage


If I'm not eating peaches, I'm eating tomatoes.  I have had a bumper crop this year, which is always a good thing.  It gives me the opportunity to share with my neighbors and to stock my shelves with bottled tomatoes and salsa.


Ricotta gnocchi is quite rich and I love to lightly saute fresh tomatoes and toss in cooked gnocchi. My husband is a carnivore and prefers meet with everything.  He turned his nose up at this dish until I covered it with cook spicy Italian sausage.

You can make this recipe for Ricotta Gnocchi or purchase pre-made gnocchi.  You can, also, substitute gnocchi with penne pasta, tortellini, or ravioli.



You will need:

Ricotta Gnocchi
4-6 cups fresh tomatoes, skinned and diced
1 clove garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
salt and pepper
handful of fresh parsley, chopped
Parmigianno Reggiano
1/2 - 1 lb Italian sausage


Brown sausage in a skillet until completely cooked, breaking up as it cooks.  Drain off any fat and set aside.


I'm using a variety of tomatoes.  I have Italian plum and celebrity tomatoes.

I like using the plum tomatoes because it makes a thicker sauce.


When I only have a few tomatoes to peel, I will just slide my knife between the skin and the meat of the tomato.  Gently press in the tomato to flatten it out then put pressure on the knife as you slide it to release the meat from the skin.


It takes a little practice to get the process down.  I'm getting pretty fast at peeling tomatoes using this technique.


Dice the tomatoes.


Peel and chop a good heaping 5 cups of tomatoes.


Smash a clove of garlic.


Chop.


Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a skillet.


Add garlic.  Cook over medium heat only until it begins to sizzle.  Don't brown the garlic.


Add tomatoes.


Add salt to taste.


And a few grinds of pepper.


Heat just barely until tomatoes begin to release their juices.  Add one tablespoon butter and stir until melted.  Turn off heat.


Chop a handful of parsley.


Add to the tomatoes.




Cook gnocchi in a pot of salted boiling water.  Add several at a time, but don't overcrowd the pan. Cook until the gnocchi float to the top.  This should only take a couple of minutes.


Remove from boiling water and add directly to the tomatoes.


Repeat until you have cooked all of the gnocchi is cooked.


Spoon into individual ramekins or gratin dishes. You can use one large casserole dish if you like.


I prefer to grate a bit of parmigiano reggiano over the top of mine.  I could live a happy life as a vegetarian.


Pile on the sausage for the carnivore.


Place gratin dishes or casserole dish on a baking sheet and place under the broiler of your oven.  Cook for about 5 minutes until the top begins to brown and bubble.


The sausage should get nice and crispy.  I love the browned gnocchi.


 

This is a pretty quick dish to make especially if you already have made the gnocchi in advance.






Ricotta Gnocchi with Tomatoes and Crispy Italian Sausage

Ricotta Gnocchi recipe
1/2 - 1 lb Italian sausage
4-6 cups fresh tomatoes, skinned and diced
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
salt and pepper
handful of fresh parsley, chopped
Parmigianno Reggiano

Cook sausage in a skillet, breaking up as it cooks.  Drain of any grease and set aside.

In a large pan, add olive oil and garlic. Cook over medium heat only until it begins to sizzle.  Add prepared tomatoes, salt and pepper to taste. Add butter and stir until melted.  Remove from heat.

In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook gnocchi until they float to the top.  Spoon out and put into tomato mixture.  Spoon into individual gratin dishes or one large casserole dish.  Place under broiler and cook for about 5 minutes or until gnocchi is beginning to brown and the sausage is beginning to crisp.  Remove from oven and serve.  Makes 5-6 servings.

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9.20.2014

Four of My Favorite Tomato Recipes



My Garden is exploding with tomatoes this year.  

In just three days we picked over 60 lbs of tomatoes!  

I asked my husband what he wanted for dinner and he replied what else can you do with tomatoes?
He is either tired of tomato dishes or he was giving me a challenge.  


There is nothing quite like homegrown tomatoes.  

I thought I would share a few of my favorite tomato recipes with you that I have previously posted. Three recipes that you really should try, if you haven't already.


#1:   Spicy Tomato Jam

My top goal for this next week is to make several jars of this amazing tomato jam.

It's so simple to make and will know your socks off as the aromas fill your home while it is simmering.

It will push the flavor of a panini right over the top.  I have even topped my eggs with a spoonful. I especially love it with any beef dish.


#2:  Slow Roasted Tomatoes

This takes me 10 minutes prep time. I literally make this in my sleep.  Pop them into a low temp oven and go to bed.  Wake up to the most amazing smell of tomatoes and garlic.

Slow roasted tomatoes make one flavorful pasta sauce.  They are fabulous on sandwiches, burgers, chopped into a salad or eggs.



#3:  Ricotta Tomato Tarts

The perfect summer super.  A warm tomato ricotta tart with a light salad on the side.  Perfect.

Puff pastry filled with ricotta cheese topped with fresh garden tomatoes. 

Simply Perfect.

How many times did I say perfect?



#4:  Tomato Basil Tart

This tart is one of the dishes that I look forward to making at the end of summer.  Garden fresh tomatoes give this tart a bright, fresh, burst in your mouth flavor. 
 
If you don't grow your own tomatoes, find a local grower and purchase local farm grown tomatoes.  Give my recipes a try. You won't regret it.

I'll be working on more tomato dishes throughout the week and will be posting more recipes soon to be my favorite.  

9.17.2014

Peach Fruit Leather. Yes! I'm Still on a Peach Kick.

 

Do you think you can put up with one more peach recipe?

 I happened to have a few over ripe peaches and decided to try my luck with fruit leather.

Nailed it!


I think kids of all ages love fruit leather.  I know my adult children as well as grandchildren love it when I buy a box of fruit rolls at the store.  The problem is they are loaded with sugar.

The great thing about making fruit leather at home is that you control  what goes in.  My peaches were already very sweet, so I just added a bit of honey and the results were perfect.




You will need:

4 cups peach puree or 4-6 ripe peaches depending on the size
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon ascorbic acid (fruit fresh) , if desired to prevent browning

Special equipment:
Blender
Baking sheet
Silpat mat or parchment paper


Wash the peaches really well by rubbing the skin.


You can leave the skins on, but if they are bruised or have blemish marks on them, remove them.

Remove pits.


Place peaches in a blender.

Look to the right of the picture and check out my amazing honey that was given to me by my amazing bee keeper neighbor.  I love the honey comb.


Add 1/2 teaspoon ascorbic acid (fruit fresh).  I like to add this to prevent the peaches from going an ugly brown.  The ascorbic acid helps keep the color of the leather bright and peachy.


Drizzle in 1 tablespoon raw natural honey.




Blend until the mixture is completely smooth and there are no lumps or peach chunks remaining.


Line a baking sheet with a Silpat mat or parchment paper.

Parchment paper works great if a silicone mat isn't available.


Carefully pour the puree onto the lined baking sheet.


Using an offset spatula carefully spread the puree.  Trying not to go over the edges.

Easier said than done.  Don't stress if the puree sneaks over the edge.  You will just have to wash the baking sheet.  No real harm will be done.

Place in a preheated 250 degree Fahrenheit oven.  Bake for 2-4 hours.  I know that's a huge time difference, but it just depends on your oven, how thick the puree is and how thick the puree is spread.
After 2 hours check every 15 minutes or so.  Touch the middle of the leather.  If some of the puree sticks to your finger than continue to cook.

The top of the puree needs to be dry to the touch.


Let the leather sit for at least 2 hours.

A couple of tricks I have learned:

  • Letting the leather sit overnight in the oven, once the oven is turned off, can be a good idea
  • If the edges get crispy, don't fret.  Remove from oven and allow the leather to cool completely. Cover with plastic wrap overnight and the leather will soften up.


Once the leather is completely cooled and dry, remove from the parchment paper or silicone mat.

Cut into strips any size you want. I like to put the quilting ruler that my grandmother gave me to good use.  I placed the ruler on top of the leather and used a pizza cutter to cut the strips. I cut my strips
1 1/4 -inches wide.



Cut strips of parchment paper the same width as the leather.

I'm sure there is an easier way.  This works for me and I like the end result.


Roll fruit up with the parchment paper strip.


Tape the end of the paper to hold in place.

Sometimes the tape doesn't stick well to the parchment so I had to tie a little string around them.









Peach Fruit Leather

4 cups peach puree, 4-6 peaches depending on size
1/2 teaspoon ascorbic acid or fruit fresh
1 tablespoon raw honey

Preheat oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.  Line one baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper.  Set aside.

Wash peaches.  Remove pits and skins if blemished.  Put peaches, ascorbic acid and honey in a blender.  Blend until completely smooth.

Carefully pour puree onto prepared baking sheet then smooth puree evenly into a rectangle.  Make sure not to let the puree go completely to the edges of the parchment or mat.  Place in preheated oven and bake for 2-4 hours.  After 2 hours check every 15 min.  Press finger onto leather.  Leather should feel dry to the touch and not stick to fingers.

Allow to cool 2-3 hours.  Once leather is cool remove from mat and cut into desired size strips.  Cut strips of parchment the same size and roll leather onto the parchment paper.  Store in an airtight container.

Makes 9-10 that have been cut into 1 1/4-inch strips.

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