Anyone who eats at my house knows my deep love of authentic Italian food. I love many different dishes from spaghetti with meatballs to risotto to homemade pasta and sauce. This post is about gnocchi. Specifically gnocchi made with ricotta cheese rather than potato. I love their delicate flavor, light texture and how much easier they are to make than the potato version. I make plain ones with rice flour and will share that recipe some other post. Just don’t ask me how to pronounce gnocchi!
These are buckwheat gnocchi and are served with clams and broccoli rabe. Yeah buckwheat. No wheat in it; buckwheat is a relative of rhubarb and it has a homey or earthy flavor that somehow matches perfectly with the clams and bitter greens. I have been making this dish for more than ten years; gf the past five years. It is a traditional spring dish at my house and much loved by my daughter. Not that tricky, I promise you can make it, no fancy pasta machine required. No long process. Roll, cut, press with fork and briefly boil.
It is a spring dish as broccoli rabe is best right now, bright green, snappy flavor and so good for you. I cook it a few minutes in boiling water before draining and sautéing briefly in olive oil and garlic. Yumm!
You could use fresh clams but I never bother; if you do – please get tiny ones and save a bit of the cooking water to add to the sauce. If you want to make it not gf; just use all purpose flour for the white rice flour. Most grocery stores now carry buckwheat flour; store the bag in your freezer please so it keeps longer.
Buckwheat Gnocchi with Clams and Rabe
For the gnocchi
1/3 cup buckwheat flour mixed with
½ cup white rice flour or any blend
1 15 ounce jar of ricotta (whole milk is best but I have used the part skim successfully)
¼ cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese; fine grater side
1 ½ tsp. sea salt
1 lb broccoli rabe
1 large can tiny whole clams or 2 small cans chopped/minced clams
¼ cup EVOL
2 garlic cloves minced
1 tbsp. butter
Salt and fresh ground pepper
Directions: Heat a big pot of salted water. While it heats, rinse the broccoli rabe and remove any yellowed leaves. Cut the very bottom of the stems off and discard. Cut the stems into 1 inch lengths. Do the same for the rest of the rabe; I set aside the stems and cook them one minute extra. Throw the rabe stems in the boiling water, cook one minute and add the rest. Cook maybe 3 more minutes; you don’t want it overcooked but not firm either; you will cook it a bit more lat er. Drain and set aside.
Mix all the gnocchi ingredients in a small mixing bowl. Turn out onto a rice floured bread board, knead briefly to form a dough. Do not add a lot of flour or your gnocchi will not be light and pillowy. Take a half cup or so at a time and roll it out on a rice flour dusted bread board; as thick as your middle finger (read ¾-1 inch). I usually only roll out 5-6 inch lengths at a time. They don’t have to be perfect looking, a bit irregular is just fine. Cut into 1 inch lengths (one knuckle long). Using two forks press gently on the top and bottom to form small ridges. This will somewhat flatten the gnocchi but the ridges are to hold sauce. If you slightly roll the gnocchi you can press it again and almost square it so each one isn’t as flat. Lay them on a cutting board that you dusted with rice flour. Don’t pile them on top of each other; one layer so they don’t stick together. Form all the dough while a big pot of salted (1 tsp) water heats. I like a wide pan so I can easily fish out the gnocchi with my flat skimmer. Put ¼ of the gnocchi in the bubbling water. Let them slowly rise to the top; I leave them in about 2-3 minutes. I put them into a glass mixing bowl as I do the batches.
While they are cooking, heat the olive oil in a big sauce pan. I like to use my mini wok for this. It is great for finishing a lot of pasta dishes. Add the garlic and stir, cook 1 minute. Add the drained greens, cook 1-2 minutes, adding the clams as it cooks, all the can juices too. Add the cooked gnocchi, the butter and if they seem dry; add a bit of the pot water; maybe ¼ cup. Taste and add salt and pepper as desired.
Note: you can add extra clam juice if you use canned ones; sometimes I add half a bottle of the stuff as I like it brothy. I made some this week and I took to eating it in a low wide bowl using a soup spoon to be able to really sample that broth.
They warm up nicely for a meal the next day, keeps 1-2 days in the fridge.
The original recipe is from Italy Al Dente by Bibi Caggiano; adapted to be gf by me. I love this cookbook, use it often; my fav Italian cookbook. SO many good recipes; she has many great risotto dishes in it as well as homemade pastas and sauces and recipes that use factory pasta. I have found that every single one works quite well with gf pastas.
Originally posted in spring 2016.