I had a lovely dinner the other night at The Cabin, a gorgeous small bar/small plate restaurant in Mt Hawthorn. The menu was comparatively compact and the dishes didn’t scream out at me to order them but when we took fork to food, everyone was suitably impressed. One dish that made us all swoon was “Straccetti pasta, toasted pine nuts, brown butter, sage and shaved Manjimup truffle”. The truffle was the dealmaker for me but all the other ingredients came together wonderfully too and I could have happily eaten the whole serve myself. But I didn’t :)
For Father’s Day weekend, I decided to try making something similar. I fell in love with spinach and ricotta gnocchi when I had it many years ago at Cream in East Perth. I found the perfect recipe for it and I usually paired it with a simple, fresh tomato and basil sauce. This time I figured I’d marry the gnocchi (sans spinach) with a classic brown butter and sage sauce, pinenuts and truffles, à la The Cabin.
The gnocchi is blessedly easy to make and once you have cooked them, you can put them to one side until you’re ready to serve them up. These gnocchis also don’t involve old, floury potatoes (which I never, ever seem to have on hand when I want to make tradtional gnocchi) so they are lovely and light. Getting the right consistency can be a little tricky (especially if you are using spinach) but my rule of thumb is to produce a gnocchi dough that is just easy enough to handle but tricky enough for you to get somewhat flustered over it. This weekend’s batch was a little too easy to move around and thus ended up not as fluffy but still much lighter than a traditional gnocchi. I guess it’s up to each person’s taste anyway.
As for the truffle, I had definitely wanted to use some in a recipe this month so this seemed like the perfect opportunity. I wasn’t going to try anything too ambitious with truffle, given it’s $250 per kilo. Perhaps next season! If not for this idea, I probably would have done a linguini showered in shaved parmesan and truffle, and olive oil of course. I’m also hoping to try a rich mushroom and truffle pasta sauce that hubby and I had in Thredbo one year. For the time being however, I think I’d be comfortable serving this up to dinner guests :)
Ricotta Gnocchi with Brown Butter & Sage Sauce
250g fresh, semi-drained ricotta (let ricotta sit on some paper towels to remove excess moisture)
200g finely grated Parmesan cheese (you can use Romano also)
1 cup of plain flour (put in 3/4 cup first and add more flour according to preferred consistency)
1 tsp salt
pinch of nutmeg
3-4 tbsp unsalted butter
8-10 sage leaves
a squeeze of lemon
1 tbsp of pinenuts
pinch of salt
Extra Parmesan, shaved truffle and salt/pepper to finish
To Make: Place all ingredients into your preferred mixer and combine until doughy. If the mixture is so sticky that you cannot handle it at all, then add remaining flour. If you can make a ball out of the dough, then add a small amount of flour. Roll out dough onto floured surface and prepare gnocchi to your preference. I simply rolled the dough into logs and chopped into chunks. With a stickier mixture, you may need to make round gnocchi pieces by hand. If your mixture is sticky, refrigerate gnocchi for 10 minutes before cooking. Prepare large pot of boiling water. Add gnocchi in batches and cook until they start floating up to the top. Scoop out gnocchi with slotted spoon and set aside once all done.
Prepare sauce by adding butter to a small pan and warming gently until it starts to brown. Be mindful that milk solids will darken and separate but should sink to the bottom mostly at serving time. Remove butter from heat and add sage leaves which will sizzle and cook gently in the heat. Add a squeeze of lemon juice, salt and pinenuts.
Sautee required number of gnocchi in frypan with olive oil until surface is golden. Add a little of the brown butter and sage sauce and combine. Serve gnocchi on plate and drizzle more of sauce on top. Add some extra Parmesan and shaved truffle if desired.