A Gnocchi Epilogue

I was going to post this in the comments, but clearly I decided not to. A couple of weeks ago, I tried to make gluten-free lemon zest black pepper gnocchi. I froze the whole batch, knowing it would help the consistency. Gluten free things often benefit from a little (or a lot) of chilling. Tonight I am eating my last serving prepared in the only method that worked for this fragile batch: Pre-baking the gnocchi, then covering with olive oil and baking again in tomato sauce and parmesan cheese. Even tonight, I forgot that the olive oil is obligatory for reasonable structure and not just a flavor note. I experimented with using butter instead, thinking they would be richer. They might be. They just aren’t discrete enough from the sauce for me to assess that well.That all sounds like a bit of a sad sack dinner disaster. To the contrary I am enjoying my cooked-to-taste, 50% homemade, ramekin of hot tomatoey, cheesy, potatoey, gluten-free goodness. No, it’s not toothsome, but I have a cornmeal crust, peach-blueberry-gooseberry crisp to fix that.

*Ahem* Back to the gnocchi.

What was good about the gnocchi? Flavor. The lemon really came through. And if it seems counterintuitive to have prominent lemon flavor in something that might go under tomato sauce then a)  just trust me and try it b) work up to it slowly, try lemon pasta with pesto sauce and some chopped fresh tomato c) think like a chef. Yes, lemon does have a distinctive flavor, particularly in the company of other citrus. But at the end of the day it’s just acid and a fairly neutral one at that (in most contexts –aioli, Hollandaise, etc. lemon just tastes ‘bright’). After all you like a little balsamico in your pasta sauce, no?

The black pepper on the other hand barely came through. I think it suffered some from the freezing. It was really an earthy-ness I was seeking rather than the heat of the pepper. A pinch of nutmeg or allspice probably would have been a better choice.

My gnocchi were light.

What was poor about the gnocchi? Oy gevalt! The structure. Lacking gluten, my gnocchi dissolved in a pot of boiling water to nothing but lemon zest and a tiny well-bound ricotta dumpling core. I knew that was a potential hazard but it was still a disappointment. A binder might have helped. Making dumplings instead of gnocchi might have helped.

I don’t like gar-fava flour. I knew that going in. I have some and I am trying to use it up. Still it lends an odd smell to the dough and an uncomfortable heaviness to the taste. If I succeed at gluten-free pasta it will be by means other than gar-fava flour.

So next time, maybe I’m making more of a dumpling less of an honest gnocchi. We’ll see what inspiration hits next time I’m in the kitchen.




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