Before leaving town for the holidays, The Astronomer and I planned a low-key dinner at home. With ten whole days between us and the quiet we’ve grown accustomed to, we made certain to savor this evening before our loving but chaotic families filled our days.
This recipe for Seared Gnocchi with Green Olive Sauce, which I found on Heidi Swanson’s lovely site 101 Cookbooks, called out to me on this occasion. In addition to sounding absolutely delightful, it intrigued me because of its unusual methods and ingredients. To prepare the gnocchi, a hot skillet is used in place of the usual boiling water. I wasn’t especially confident in this cooking method, but was most surprised that it yielded a tray of doughy potato balls with crisp exteriors and fluffy interiors.
I was also excited about the idea of a green olive-based pasta sauce. The original recipe used pitted olives procured from a specialty grocer, but the jarred ones that I had in my pantry and pitted by hand worked perfectly fine. Any fear of an intensely briny sauce faded the moment I took my first bite. The cream, broth, and onions mellowed out the olives’ punch, resulting in a memorable and unique sauce that paired tastily with the gnocchi. We ate the leftover sauce with penne and angel hair pasta with equally good results.
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil or clarified butter
- 3/4 cup vegetable broth
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- 1 2/3 cup (200 grams) green olives, pitted and chopped
- Fresh lemon juice (optional)
- 1 pound gnocchi, either fresh or packaged
- Fried capers
- Bread crumbs, toasted
- Sliced almonds, toasted
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, saute the garlic and onion in the 1 tablespoon of olive oil, until softened, a few minutes. Add the broth and cream, and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat, add the olives and let cool for a couple minutes.
Transfer cream mixture to a food processor and blend until no large chunks remain.
Thin with a bit more warm cream or water if needed. Taste and add a bit of fresh lemon juice if you like. Set aside and keep warm.
Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil (or clarified butter) in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Pan-fry the uncooked gnocchi in a single layer until golden on both sides, working in two batches if needed.
Toss the gnocchi with half of the sauce, taste, and add more sauce if you like. Salt and pepper to taste, then serve topped with fried capers, toasted bread crumbs, toasted almonds, and/or chives.
Any leftover sauce can be refrigerated for a few days.
Serves 4 – 6.