Learnin’ to Cook Italian
(For those fans of Space Ghost out there, I trust you read the title in the voice of Brak.)
A photo essay on my recent kitchen channeling of the Italian grandmother I don’t have:
Presto! You’ve got pesto!
This makes for a fair bit of pesto. It will keep for about a week in the refrigerator (add about a 1/4″ of olive oil on top of it all in its container to keep it from discoloring).
If you don’t have an army to immediately feed, you can freeze any extra:
OK. No recipe/photo essay here, but I’ll say a few things about making gnocchi from scratch:
1. I think it would probably be significantly easier if you had a potato ricer/masher, but it can be done with a good ole fork. It just might be a little chunkier.
2. To freeze your freshly made gnocchi, lay them out on parchment paper-lined baking trays and cover with plastic wrap for a couple hours (or overnight). When they’re frozen solid, pop them into a freezer bag and label the bag for later. [If you throw ’em all into a bag straightaway, you’ll end up with one giant gnocchi — maybe not the desired result.]
3. No need to thaw your frozen gnocchi before cooking. They’re kind of like won-ton or ravioli or other frozen dumpling-like items. Just toss ’em in boiling water. They’re ready when they’re floating.
Mixed Mushroom, Tomato, & Basil Sauce:
Quit using that stuff from the grocery store, all full of mystery ingredients and preservatives! Make your own sauce! It’s super easy (don’t forget the Italian music!), especially if you use canned tomatoes. (Saucing tomatoes were super cheap at the local store, so I used fresh tomatoes, a random mix of mushrooms, and leftover basil from the pesto-fest.) I used this recipe from Epicurious, but really, you can hardly go wrong with some canned tomatoes, garlic, Italian seasonings, and whatever else you like in your sauce.
You can make a big batch of sauce and freeze the rest for later, so you have a healthy sauce at the ready. To freeze, let your sauce cool, and then spoon it into big freezer bags. Lay the bag(s) flat in your freezer, so they freeze into a thick sheet. When you’re ready to use it, just break off a section of the sheet and keep the rest in the freezer. Too easy!