Posted on 08 June 2010 by

Potato Gnocchi with Roasted Tomato-Parmesan Cream

sweetpotatognocchi_n_lgBy David Harbilas

I sometimes fear that we’re becoming slaves to the internet and that “easier” forms of communication are taking the place of face-to-face conversations.

An old friend of mine recently reminded, via a post on a web-site, of the joys of gnocchi.

A perfectly made gnocchi is sometimes frustrating and sometimes deceptively simple,
and rather than expound about how to make gnocchi (a subject for another blog?).

I’ll say that one certainty about gnocchi exists: tomatoes are their best friend. There is no sauce that completes gnocchi the way a simple tomato sauce does, but sometimes there is a simple variation that pushes things just a little over the top. This sauce, with some slight variations, comes courtesy of Mark Gaier and Clark Frasier, chef-owners of Arrows, MC Perkins Cove, and Summer-Winter Restaurants in Maine and New Hampshire.

I first learned this sauce from them while cooking at Arrows in 1998. I’m convinced it is the best tomato sauce ever created, both for its flavor and simple preparation. The most important part is, of course, the quality of the tomatoes. An ordinary globe variety will do, so don’t bother with an heirloom, which is really best used raw, as in a salad. A well-ripened, sweet-as-can be tomato is going to make the best sauce possible, so look for that.

Serves 4

  • 3 large globe variety red tomatoes
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 pound potato gnocchi

Preheat an oven to 300 degrees. Place the tomatoes in an oven-proof dish, coat with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and cover the dish with aluminum foil. Roast for 4-6 hours, until tomatoes have released their juices and have shriveled. Cool for 1 hour, or until cool enough to handle, then slip the skins off.

In a blender, puree the tomatoes with their roasting juices to make a smooth puree. Pass the puree through a coarse strainer to remove any seeds. Place the puree in a heavy-bottomed saucepan with the heavy cream and reduce the sauce over medium heat until thickened slightly. In the meantime, bring a pot of salted water to a boil.

Drop the gnocchi in the water and wait for them to float on the surface. Once they have floated, let them cook for an additional two minutes, then remove them to the tomato sauce. Toss in the sauce and add the parmesan cheese. Stir the gnocchi gently in the sauce to evenly coat and melt the cheese.

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