Sunday, October 14, 2012

Brown butter-sage gnocchi

One of my favorite date ideas is cooking at home. You can open a nice bottle of wine while you cook, and you can make exactly what you're in the mood for - and probably for cheaper than if you got it at a restaurant.

I made this gnocchi recipe for my boyfriend this weekend, and he melted like the full stick of butter the sauce is made out of. (Date nights should be decadent, no?)

Brown butter-sage gnocchi is almost a cliche these days. But when it comes to food, that's not a bad thing - I mean, who can top tomato and basil, or grilled cheese and tomato soup? And on date night, it's almost like dinner and a movie. It just works. This is just another one of those combinations.

It would also be good with some pumpkin gnocchi, if you happen to have some on hand.

Brown butter-Sage Gnocchi
2 sweet Italian sausages*
1 lb gnocchi
1 stick butter
10 sage leaves
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup parmesan (plus more to sprinkle on top)
4 ounces baby spinach leaves (1/2 an 8 ounce bag)

First, cook the sausages. I used a cast-iron pan with a little oil. Cook them nice and slow. (I use a meat thermometer to let me know when they're done.) When they are done, wrap them in some aluminum foil to keep them warm.

Start bringing salted water to boil in a large pan.

Melt the butter in a medium frying pan over medium-low heat. I try not to use a non-stick pan for this part, because you want to be able to see when the butter starts browning. When the butter is melted and the foam subsides, carefully place each sage leave into the pan. Fry for about 30 seconds, then flip over and fry 30 seconds more. Remove and set aside.

Add the walnuts to the butter. (By this point it should be starting to brown.) Stir a minute or so, and when the butter is nice and brown, remove from heat.

Cut the sausages into coins.

By this point the water should be boiling. Pop the gnocchi in. They will be done when they float to the top (about 3 minutes.) Drain gnocchi and return to pot. Add brown butter and walnuts, spinach, sausage, and cheese. Stir until cheese is melted and spinach is wilted.

Serve with a tasty malbec.

*To make this dish vegetarian, omit the sausage.

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