Homemade Gnocchi in a Simple Tomato Sauce

Gnocci with Homemade sauce

This year’s tomato harvest at Creekview Farm was never ending! From San Marzano’s to beautiful Herilooms, we had enough harvest for two large batches of tomato sauce, two large batches of bloody mary mix, endless caprese salads and beyond. To help me warm up on these cooler nights, I decided to pair our homemade tomato sauce with a simple gnocchi recipe topped with shaved Pecorino and fresh herbs.

Tomato Sauce

  • Tomatoes (I used San Marzano tomatoes from Creekview Farm)
  • Fresh oregano
  • Fresh basil
  • Bay leaves
  • Garlic, chopped
  • Carrots, chopped
  • Onions, chopped
  • Celery, chopped
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Creekview Tomato Strainer

I started off by pureeing the tomatoes using our super old-fashioned tomato food strainer (I remember my Mom using this all the time as a kid). The strainer helps separate out the skins and seeds, while keeping the yummy pulp and juices. And what I love most about making tomato sauce is the fact that you really can make it your own and add in whatever herbs, vegetables and seasonings you want. For this sauce, I kept it very simple by adding in a few chopped vegetables and herbs and letting it simmer all day on low until it reached the perfect consistency.

Creekview Herbs

Add chopped vegetables and garlic to a large heavy pot over medium heat, add olive oil and cook for about 5 minutes (be careful not to burn the garlic). Add tomatoes,  chopped herbs of your choice, 1-2 bay leaves and sea salt and simmer on low heat until tomato sauce has darkened and you’ve reached your preferred consistency. I simmered mine for about 8 hours on low – make sure you are constantly tasting the sauce through out the day, adding in more herbs if you desire. Season sauce with more salt and freshly ground pepper.

Ground Pepper

Store in an airtight container for a week in the refrigerator or 3 months in the freezer. TIP: when freezing, make sure you freeze in 2-4 serving portions.

Gnocchi

  • 4 russet potatoes
  • 2 cups flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1 egg
  • salt
  • Pecorino or Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • Fresh basil

Begin by boiling the potatoes (skins on) until soft and tender. While they are still warm, peel them and pass them through a potato ricer (if you don’t have a ricer, you can use a hand masher or fork – just be sure to not overwork the potatoes). Gather the potatoes into a mound and form a well in the center. Add the egg and salt and begin to mix together with a fork, gradually adding in the flour. Once mixed, begin to knead the dough gently until dough is slightly dry to the touch.

Aprons Gnocchi

Form dough into log and slice off 1-inch pieces. Take one of the pieces and roll into a rope about 3/4 inch in diameter. With a sharp knife cut the rope crosswise every 3/4 inch. Continue the same process with the rest of the dough.

Aprons Gnocchi

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once ready, drop in the dumplings for about 2 minutes (they will begin to float). Remove them with a slotted spoon and transfer them to an ice bath to stop the cooking. Remove them quickly from the bath and drain on a paper towel.

Aprons Gnocchi

When ready to serve, heat your sauce and toss gently with the gnocchi. Garnish with freshly shaved Pecorino or Parmigiano-Reggiano and basil. Enjoy with Sangiovese or Merlot.

Happy Holidays!

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Heirloom Tomato Tart

Tomato Tart

It’s heirloom season once again and what I love most about these end-of-summer beauties are their uniqueness in flavors, colors, textures and shapes. This rustic tart (or otherwise known as a galette) has a delicious flaky crust and a beautifully-bold filling of sweet heirlooms and rich, golden cheese.

Heirlooms at Creekview

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 stick (1/4 lb.) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into pieces
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup crème fraîche, chilled
  • Heirloom tomatoes, sliced
  • Semi-hard sheep’s milk cheese, such as manchego
  • Olive oil

Dough

Combine the flour, salt, baking powder, and butter pieces in a food processor or in a medium bowl if blending by hand. Blend just until the butter is incorporated into the dry ingredients. Mix in the crème fraîche. Turn the entire mix out onto a cutting board and gently push it together into a pile. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Filling

Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees F. Place the sliced tomatoes in a colander and sprinkle generously with coarse salt. Lay the tomatoes on several sheets of paper towel to drain (dried tomatoes will make a crisp tart).

Dust a work surface well with flour and roll the dough into a circle about 1/8-inch thick. Dust flour under the dough if it starts to stick.

Carefully slide a rimless baking sheet under the dough. Leaving a 3-inch boarder, scatter the cheese on top of the dough, then arrange the tomatoes evenly over the cheese. Fold the edges of the dough over the tomatoes, making pleats as you fold and leaving the center of the tart open.

Bake the tart until golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes. Let cool on a rack.

Drizzle the top of the tart with a touch of olive oil and a sprinkle of coarse salt. Slice and serve with a simple, lightly dressed salad.

Tomato Tart

Couscous Cakes & Heirloom Salad

Couscous Cakes

My friend Morgan and I often find ourselves playing “Chopped” in the kitchen where we decide to make dinner together with only the ingredients we currently have in the refrigerator / pantry. The menu is never set until we look at the ingredients each of us have contributed and we just “wing it!” We’ve never had a bad “Chopped” dinner date but I must say our couscous cakes with avocados and heirlooms has been the BEST and most beautiful “Chopped” dish to date. This entrée can easily be made into an appetizer or side salad. The creaminess of the avocado married with the crispy texture of the cakes and freshness of the heirloom salad makes this dish a winner in our “chopped” series of recipes.

CousCous Cakes How To

  • 1 1/2 cup couscous, cooked and cooled
  • 3/4 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1 egg
  • 2 avocados, sliced
  • Fresh basil
  • Fresh thyme
  • 1 basket small heirloom tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
  • Fresh mozzarella cheese balls, cut in half
  • Olive oil
  • Red wine vinegar
  • Salt & pepper, to taste

Cook couscous per the directions on box and let cool. Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Once couscous has cooled; combine one egg, shredded mozzarella, basil, thyme, salt and pepper to the couscous. Mix well and form small patties. Cook patties in 1 or 2 batches over medium heat, flipping once until the patties are crisp and golden brown on both sides (about 5 – 6 minutes each side). Repeat the same steps for the remaining patties.

While the couscous cakes are cooking, prepare the heirloom salad. Combine the heirloom tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and torn basil with a heavy drizzle of olive oil and a few dashes of red wine vinegar. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Cut avocados in half, remove the pit and slice lengthwise. Fan avocado slices on plate and place the warm couscous cakes on top. Finish with the heirloom salad.

Makes 6-8 cakes.

CousCous Cakes & Rose

Enjoy! ~ Crystal


Wine Pairing

2012 Muscardini Rosato di Sangiovese

Muscardini Rosato di Sangiovese

Muscardini Cellars is one of my favorite wineries in Sonoma Valley and owner/winemaker Michael is one of the coolest guys around. If you are ever in the Sonoma County area, this is a must on your winery to-do list. Michael’s 2012 Muscardini Rosato di Sangiovese opens up with vibrant strawberry and watermelon notes with a hint of wild berries and citrus. Perfectly balanced with a crisp and clean finish.

This is a perfect spring and summertime wine that makes a wonderful aperitif, yet pairs deliciously with simple fare such as fruit, mild cheeses and charcuterie, fish, salads and lighter fare. The perfect picnic wine! Click here to learn more about Muscardini Cellars!