If you came here expecting to find a recipe for those tasty little Italian potato dumplings, well, SURPRISE! The gnocchi of today’s post are a type of pasta and have nothing to do with their namesake other than a similar shape. Now, I wish I could say that my family has prepared these for years but, the fact is, I stumbled upon these gnocchi during one of my voyages of discovery down the pasta aisle of the Italian market. Since I had already planned to share this recipe, I merely substituted one pasta for another.
The pasta aside, the reason I wanted to share today’s recipe was to introduce burrata. If you’ve never tried nor heard of burrata, you’re in for a treat. Originating in Puglia, burrata is a fresh cheese that is closely related to mozzarella. To make it, a piece of newly formed mozzarella is stretched into a flat sheet and used to form a pouch. It is then filled with fresh cheese curds, “topped off” with heavy cream, and sealed. (See photo below.) The result is about as rich a cheese as one could ever expect.
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There are many recipes that feature burrata but the use of lemon is what drew me to this one. None of its flavors are so bold as to hide or overpower burrata’s creamy taste while the pasta shape lends itself to providing spots to capture bits of cheese and drops of cream. Add some toasted slivered almonds for texture and you’ve a great dish of pasta, whether you serve it as a primo piatto or secondo.
Today’s recipe is straight-forward with little need for clarification. Just be sure to slice burrata on a rimmed dish or cutting board. You do not want to let any of the cream go anywhere but into your pasta. Beyond that, you’ll need to work fast. The pasta and olive oil mixture must be hot enough to wilt the spinach and, soon thereafter, melt the burrata. A little reserved hot pasta water will help, as will bringing the burrata out of the refrigerator an hour earlier than needed to remove its chill. See? Nothing at all difficult and an incredible pasta is your reward.
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Gnocchi Pasta with Lemon, Spinach, and Burrata Recipe
yield: 6 servings
- 1 lb gnocchi pasta
- ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
- juice and zest of 1 Meyer lemon
- 1 pkg (6 oz) fresh baby spinach
- ¾ cup slivered almonds
- grated nutmeg, to taste
- 1 lb. burrata cheese, sliced and cut into 1 inch cubes
- grated Pecorino Romano cheese
- freshly cracked black pepper
- Place almonds in a small skillet over med-high heat and toast until lightly browned. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook gnocchi per package directions or to taste.
- When pasta is approximately 4 minutes before being al dente, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add butter and olive oil.
- Add the garlic to the hot oil/butter mixture and sauté until soft, about 1 minute. Do not allow to brown.
- Add the lemon juice and zest to the skillet and stir to combine. Keep hot until pasta is ready. If it reduces too much, replenish with pasta water.
- Drain the pasta and put it into a large bowl.
- Add the spinach, in thirds, to the gnocchi and mix well. Continue until all the spinach has been added to the bowl of gnocchi. (Adding it in batches will help to prevent clumping.)
- Add the almonds and a dash of nutmeg. Mix well.
- Add the hot butter/oil/lemon mixture to the pasta and toss, wilting the spinach as you do.
- Work quickly and once the spinach is lightly wilted, apportion 6 servings.
- Place an equal amount of burrata on top of each serving.
- Finish each serving with a sprinkle of Pecorino Romano cheese and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste.
- Serve immediately.
Inspired by Bon Appetit, December 2004
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Not all of us have ready access to Meyer lemons, and, gnocchi pasta probably won’t be found in your neighborhood grocery. Don’t let a lack of either stop you from making this delicious pasta. If missing Meyer lemons, use the juice and zest of 1/2 “normal” lemon. If unable to find gnocchi pasta, try using campanelle (little bells), gigli (lilies), or, as pictured on the right, conchiglie (shells).
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Burrata’s creaminess makes it a natural for crostini and you may wish to reserve a bit just for that purpose. Use it in place of mozzarella to make the crostini described HERE and pictured on the left.
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It’s déjà vu all over again …
Flatbread are common to many cuisines and Italian is no different. Originating in Emilia-Romagna, this flatbread is called piedina but in my Dad’s area within Italy, the Republic of San Marino, it’s called pieda. Easy to prepare, Mom served pieda with sautéed Swiss chard but you can serve it with cheeses, lunch meats, salad greens, or any combination of those. You can find the recipe by clicking HERE.
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Coming soon to a monitor near you …
Last week I shared the recipe for Bartolini Lasagna. At the time, I called it “one of the jewels in the Bartolini Crown of Recipes.” Well, next week I’ll present another of our Crown’s jewels: Mom’s recipe for Cappelletti. Although not made in the traditional shape, these raviolini will turn an ordinary bowl of brodo into something really quite special.
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