Saturday, September 26, 2009


A busy week resulted in a couple of nights eating leftovers and one dinner at Red Elephant. This, however, left us with a surplus of arugula and mizuna on the final evening before our next CSA share.

Enter the Gnocci.

I had recently found a recipe for kohlrabi gnocci in the Victory Garden Cookbook. The author suggested arugula as a substitute for the kohlrabi. It seemed that we could also include the mizuna. Sounds a bit strange perhaps, but I know there are many variations of this dish in traditional Italian cooking. Plus, we still have leftover lemon chicken - so we had a fallback option if they didn't turn out.

The Method

  1. Steam the arugula and mizuna (whole) until tender. (This pot reduced to 2 C.)
  2. Sautee the steamed leaves in butter (add garlic powder - we have no fresh)
  3. Puree the leaves with 1 C. ricotta, some nutmeg, S&P
  4. Bring 6 TB butter and 1 C. water to a boil
  5. Add 3/4 C. flour, mix until smooth and cook over medium heat for 3-4 minutes
  6. Incorporate 3 whole eggs into the flour mixture
  7. Combine pureed ricotta/leaves with the batter
  8. Add 3/4 C. grated Parmesan (we used Grana Padano plus Parm.)

The batter was thick and sticky. Using two spoons I began forming small "dumplings" and dropped them gently into a pot of salted, simmering water. The initial batch fell apart even with a very mild churning of the water. The leaves-to-flour ratio was too high. I ended up adding an additional 1/2 C flour to it to give it a little more body. With hindsight, I would have doubled the flour mixture for the amount of leaves I used. Also, I decided to make larger balls - about 1 1/2 - 2 inches. These held up much better during cooking. Each batch simmered for 15 minutes or so.

Drain the cooked gnocci and set them into cold water. When cool and firm, they sink. Transfer these to a butter-greased baking dish.

I sprinkled these with browned onions and a good handful of grated Grana Padano. They baked at 350 for about 20 minutes.

The Results

Batter difficulties aside, the gnocci were wonderful. A savory, soft - almost fluffy - texture. The choice of browned onions in place of a sauce was excellent. The flavor of the arugula and mizuna blended nicely with the cheese, nutmeg, and egg. (Remember, we are using free range chicken eggs from Twin Oaks Farm, which have a deep, rich yolk and a very fresh taste.) They didn't hold their shape well. Perhaps using potato in the batter (or simply increasing the amount of roux) would help.

The only downside to eating salad greens this way is the amount of time this recipe takes - it's far more involved than simply preparing a raw salad with dressing. But it was worth it.

We served another cucumber and tomato salad with this. There are precious few weeks left in real tomato season! (Sorry for the poor picture.)

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Kudya Bwino Bwino (Eating Well) © 2009