Do you ever open up your fridge and wonder how you ended up with so many things that were so incongruous? I have pomegranates and okra. Taro leaves and green tomatoes. Tea eggs. Leftover frittata. Leftover millet…
This is basically how it happened. I’m at the market I see something new. I buy it. I’m at the market, I see something seasonal that comes for a few weeks a year. I buy a lot of it. I’m at the market, I see something cheap. I buy enough to make that one dish that I really really love. I run out of time. I get really good at composting. I feel bad. I go back to making grocery lists which makes me feel… constricted. I start over. The fridge gets smaller.
Anyways, I have a really long list of recipes for all of those dissimilar things – some of those I’ve been putting off because I’m ADD when it comes to cooking. I’ve repurchased okra twice in the last 3 weeks. It’s pathetic. I know the okra and its story is coming! Mainly because I love that recipe and also because okra season is waning.
For now, I wanted to get into Fall. Fall is Summer for San Franciscans. I wear dresses. I eat salads. I use ice. There’s ice cream outings and sun block. That’s why I wanted a refreshing gnocchi to get me started. Refreshing and gnocchi in one breath? You bet!
The following is a subtle take on gnocchi with a citrus and ginger butter sauce. It took me a while to get there, but I think you’ll enjoy it as much as I do. The gnocchi is flavored with green tea power, or matcha, and it’s coated in a butter with hints of ginger and orange. With some steamed butternut squash, it can be deceptively light. You’ll want to eat more, but you really shouldn’t.
This recipe is inspired by my reading of the Culinary Tea book, though, if you’ve seen it, you’ll notice that this is very different. The book’s recipe is a ricotta style gnocchi, which I thought was too heavy for the delicate green flavor of matcha. I tried making my favorite potato gnocchi with some matcha it was much more delicate.
I’m a huge fan of potato style gnocchi. Potato gnocchi can also be made vegan so that’s an added benefit. I think the book suggested some tomatoes and meat things with gnocchi, but I stopped reading at that point. I’m vegetarian after all…
After experimenting with a heavy cream sauce, an almond cream sauce, and a coconut cream sauce I decided that a simple butter sauce was just what it needed. Keep it simple, right? The butter sauce was slightly enhanced by a small amount of grated ginger and fresh orange juice. The first bite was very citrusy and vibrant and the finish leaves you with a clean matcha flavor. If you are vegan, just use olive oil in place of butter.
As an aside, I would like to add that a sauce of almond milk, orange juice, and ginger tastes like a good smoothie… If you want to jump on that.
To make potato gnocchi with matcha: This is a one pound recipe that was about 4 portions (about the size of one fist).
There are a lot of resources out there on how to make gnocchi, but the best way to learn is just to do it. With practice, you’ll whip it out within an hour. I used to put ridges on my lil’ dumplings but now I just leave them looking like pillows. This means that it’s much faster to make. No one ever complains about homemade gnocchis, ridges or not.
1lb milled or finely grated peeled, baked yukon gold potatoes (I use a food mill and a scale, it looked like ~4 cups)
1/2 c. 00 flour, plus another 1/2 cup for dusting
1 egg, whipped (optional*)
1TB matcha powder + 1TB for dusting.
A pinch of salt (fine salt works best here)
+ Bake potatoes until soft – this can vary depending on your oven/patience/potato size. When you remove the potatoes from the oven, cut them in half immediately to release the steam. Then, peel the potatoes and mill/grate them using the smallest holes in your food mill** or grater. Or, use a ricer. Weigh your potatoes. You’ll need about 1 cup of flour to 1 lb of potatoes depending on the humidity and age of your potatoes. Allow them to cool.
+ Bring a small pot of water to a boil. This will allow you to test your dumplings while you make it.
+ Make a hole in the potatoes and add 1 whipped egg (optional). Stir the egg into the potatoes with a delicate hand. The key to eggless gnocchi is in the delicate handling.
+ Sift flour/matcha over gnocchi while fluffing the potatoes with a fork. Work the mixture delicately until it’s well-formed. You can switch to floured hands once the flour and potatoes are well-combined. Use the additional 1/2 cup of flour and matcha for dusting. It will get absorbed into the gnocchi as you work. Just right before you have a solid mass, pinch off a piece and test it in the boiling water. If it needs more matcha, add more. If you need more flour, add more. Once you are happy with the texture and flavor of your gnocchi, move on to the next step. Depending on the quality and brand of matcha, your measurements may vary.
+ Divide into quarters and roll the gnocchi into cigars. Cut them with a sharp knife or a dough blade.
+ If you do not plan to eat them immediately, freeze the matcha at this stage. Just powder a cookie sheet with flour and place gnocchis in a single layer and freeze until solid. Be sure they are not touching. Once they are hard enough and not sticky, you should transfer them to a freezer bag.
+ To cook gnocchi, boil in a pot of salted, boiling water until they float. If you are cooking frozen gnocchi, make sure they are added in small amounts. The frozen bits can quickly decrease your water’s temperature which will cause them to fall apart. If you’re not freezing them, cook them asap. The potatoes will start to expel moisture if left around for more than a few hours… just cook immediately or freeze.
+ You can also fry gnocchi in a skillet with some oil if making the same day. I don’t think it would work with frozen gnocchi unless you pre-boil them.
To make ginger and orange butter:
6 TB unsalted butter
1 TB finely grated ginger (use a microplane, otherwise you’ll be biting into bits of ginger)
1/2 orange, juiced
+ Melt butter in a sauce pan on medium heat and add ginger. Cook until the ginger is aromatic, but not brown. Add oj and cook for an additional minute on medium heat. Salt to taste. Turn off and allow to sit. Reheat when you are ready to serve.
A note about butternut squash:
I’ve served this dish with skillet seared squash and orange braised squash and I think it’s all too overpowering. You can get away with simply steaming them and coating them in the same ginger orange butter. That said, orange braised butternut squash is really refreshing.
* The waxier the potato, the safer it is to omit the egg. This takes a bit of practice, but my potatoes were so waxy, they didn’t need much flour either.
** I bought a food mill and it’s amazing. The potatoes are perfectly textured and I use it to make spaetzle, jam, and all sorts of soups.