Thursday, August 16, 2007

HHDD #14: Gnocchi with Rocket Pesto & Tyrolean Bacon


Which of the following statements are true?

Bacon goes excellently with pesto.


Bacon goes excellently with everything, including pesto.

I am definitely an ardent student of the second school of thought. As the book I am presently enjoying indicates, I am a lover of anything pork. Bacon, with its streaks of gorgeous fat and hypnotic smoky flavor, is high on my list of porcine delights (with this at the top). Which is why, when I heard that this month’s round of Hay Hay it’s Donna Day was to be all about gnocchi, and I have never made gnocchi before***, I decided to call in the bacon…you know, just in case ;) If there were any accidents, at least I would have the bacon to act as delicious camouflage.

Anyhoo, moving right along…

Gnocchi. Although the recipe our lovely host Lynnylu posted was for a gnocchi made with ricotta (yum!), I decided to go with potato gnocchi for my first time. As luck would have it, I found a basic recipe for potato gnocchi in (surprise! surprise!) Donna Hay Magazine’s Winter 2007 issue…complete with how-to pictures and tips! Yay!

Being a first attempt, I had no idea what to expect, how finely the potatoes needed to be mashed, how the dough was suppose to feel…everything was done on a wing and a prayer. I do not own a potato ricer or food mill, so all “mashing” was done with a fork, and I started to worry that the mash wasn’t smooth enough. Then, as the dough came together, it seemed very sticky (added some flour to that) and soft. As I cut the gnocchi, I feared that they would fall apart once I dropped them in the water…they seemed a little too delicate. Well, there was nothing I could do now but hope for the best, so into a saucepan of rapidly boiling water they went. After a few nerve-wracking moments, the little lumps floated to that top. That’s it? Where they done? I fished one out and poked it…felt firm. Crossing my fingers I took them out and let them drain.

For the sauce, as mentioned above, I wanted bacon to play a part – hopefully masking any disasters if needed. I decided on a bacon-pesto sauce as I believe it’s a pairing made in heaven (try bacon+pesto+broad beans…excellent side dish!). I made rocket (arugula) pesto, because I love arugula and I wanted something different from the usual basil pesto (simply substitute rocket for the basil in your favorite pesto recipe). For the bacon, I used some of a just-acquired batch of Tyrolean bacon (so good!).

Gnocchi with Rocket Pesto & Tyrolean Bacon
(gnocchi recipe adapted from
Donna Hay Magazine, Winter 2007...I halved it)

For the gnocchi:

  • 350 grams potato
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 egg yolk

  • For the sauce:

  • Olive oil
  • 2-3 tablespoons rocket pesto
  • 100 grams Tyrolean bacon, chopped into fairly chunky bits
  • Ricotta cheese, to serve

    - Place the potatoes on a baking tray and bake in a 180C oven until soft inside and crispy on the outside (about 1 hour or more).
    - When potatoes are soft, allow to cool slightly. Cut them in half while still warm (but easy to handle) and scoop the flesh into a bowl, and mash until smooth.
    - Add the parmesan and flour and stir to combine. Add egg yolk and stir until mixture comes together and leaves the sides of the bowl.
    - Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for one minute until a soft dough forms (my dough was too sticky so I added a little flour at this point).
    - Divide the dough into half and roll each half into a long rope about 2-2.5 cm in diameter. Cut into 2 cm pieces and place on a lightly floured tray.
    - Cook gnocchi in batches in a large saucepan of salted boiling water. Once you dropped the gnocchi in, do not stir or touch it…wait until it floats to the top and is firm to the touch, then it’s done. Drain and keep warm.
    - In a skillet, heat a small amount of olive oil, and then add the bacon. Once bacon has released some of its fat, add the gnocchi and fry quickly until the sides lose some of its paleness. Take pan off the heat, add pesto, and toss gently to coat.
    - Transfer to a plate, dot with ricotta cheese (please be more generous than I was in the photo above) and serve.
    - Serves two.

    I was pleasantly surprised with the outcome of my first foray into gnocchi-land. Despite a seemingly too-delicate dough, and my serious lack of special implements, once the little lumps where plopped into the boiling water, something miraculously righted itself and passable gnocchi emerged – soft and starchy but also firm and chewy. They did look depressingly pale at first, but I fixed that by frying them a little in the bacon fat (as I fix most of life’s problems). Also, I think I may make them smaller next time…these ones were a tad too hefty for me. The rocket pesto was a dream…if you like arugula, you have got to try it in your pesto! The Tyrolean bacon was a discovery…lightly smoky and salty, it was perfect with the pesto and the doughy-ness of the gnocchi.

    Thanks Lynnylu for choosing a theme I thoroughly enjoyed! And thanks Barbara for thinking up of such a great event! :)
  • ***Come to think of it, pretty much all my Donna Day entries were firsts! Hmmm…I guess now we all know how experienced I am in the kitchen huh? Never having made risotto, soufflĂ©, mousse, or sorbet…wow, am I even the least bit embarrassed to admit this? Well, no matter, thanks to Donna Day I now have them all tucked snugly under my belt. And now gnocchi too ;)


    Barbara said...

    And all your entries have been brilliant even if they were firsts for you. Looks great Joey. Thanks for joining in again at HHDD.

    photogirl said...

    This sounds great! And I too am for the bacon with anything and everything school of thought! :)

    I own a ricer which I bought specifically to try my hand at gnocchi... 5 years ago! And it still sits, lonely and unused. I absolutely love gnocchi but have been so intimidated to try it.

    But gnocchi married with bacon pesto? Who can resist? Perhaps this will be next weekend's assignment... hhhmmm...


    Franco said...

    One word, Joey. Delicious! Now, if I can just work up the courage to make my own pasta. :P

    Meeta said...

    Bacon goes with everything even pesto!!

    It's awesome Joey and you've got me drooling! I love Gnocchi and always have some frozen away! Brilliant entry BTW!

    Patricia Scarpin said...

    I love that you used baked potatoes to make your gnocchi, Joey - I have that magazine, too, and can't wait to try making it that way!

    Bacon is good with everything. :)

    Deborah said...

    Bacon does make everything better!! I have never made gnocchi before either, and I am hoping that I will have time to participate because I really want to try it out!

    wysgal said...

    Bacon goes with everything! My brother asked me once to make him chocolate covered bacon although I never quite got around to it ...

    ChichaJo said...

    Hi Barbara! Thanks so much! :) And thank you for creating the platform through which I learn all these firsts!

    Hi Photogirl! Becon makes everything better, yes? ;) Use that ricer girl! It's not that hard at all :)

    Hi Franco! Although this was my first gnocchi, I have actually made pasta before...and it was much easier! And I don't have a pasta machine (gosh, am I so pitifully devoid of tools?!). All you need is a rolling pin and a knife ;)

    Hi Meeta! Thank you! :) I actually froze some so will see how those do...but I am loving the thought of having a batch of gnocchi in my freezer ready for action :)

    Hi Patricia! I agree, bacon rules! Let me know if you try it out :)

    Hi Deborah! I hope you do get to make it! Would love to see what you come up with :)

    Hi Wysgal! I have a recipe for Bacon Toffee if you want it :) It sounds sooo deviously good!

    katiez said...

    Definitely second school of thought.
    My mother taught me well, there was always a jar of 'bacon grease' for frying stuff - eggs, potatoes, hamburgers...
    Love your story about the gnocchi - makes me want to make some - to have with bacon!

    Stephen said...

    Looks delicious. I'm with you, bacon goes well with anything. Gnocchi is a pretty hard dough to make for first timers but it sounds like yours turned out great!

    maybahay said...

    Hi, first time poster here. I just discovered your blog and absolutely love it.
    Hubby and I would live on bacon if we didn't care about our arteries at all so this dish is perfect for the current cold nights here in Sydney. Great photo!

    I have started a blog ( which is really for my mothers' group as we constantly discuss what to serve the family. Would appreciate any comments/tips, though, on how to make postings interesting and readable.

    Thanks heaps.

    Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

    Wow, that dish looks brilliant and scrumptious! I'd eat that any time...

    Anh said...

    Delicious!!! I have always wanted to make some gnocchi but haven't had enough time and confidence to do it. Your recipe is a keeper for me!!

    bea at la tartine gourmande said...

    oh yum, you are making me hungry!

    J.Noelle said...

    I cannot agree more – bacon makes everything better. I just posted an ode to bacon myself including photos of the "I love bacon" t-shirts that a friend and I had made:

    mtan said...

    Bacon goes with everything, and your fix it (fry it in bacon fat) is on my list too. Happiness is crisp bacon. Double happiness is looking at those happy fat gnocchi embraced by the pesto and more bacon. I have a ricer, must try to make own potato pasta!

    K & S said...

    this sounds great! and congratulations, just read the article about your blog on culinate!

    docchef said...

    like what Jeffrey Steingarten(judge Iron chef America) always say.. Bacon should be in a different food group... I love bacon with everything

    thess said...

    Hi Joey!

    your gnocchi is encouraging me to finally use my bag of gnocchi in my ref - not as fresh as yours though.

    have a good weekend!

    ChichaJo said...

    Hi Katiez! Love the bacon grease jar...have to start one! Waste not, want not ;)

    Thanks Stephen! I was groping in the it supposed to be really sticky?

    Thanks Maybahay for dropping in and for the sweet comment! :) This would be great on a cold night! Will check your site out :)

    Hi Rosa! Thanks! :)

    Hi Anh! It wasn't as hard as I though...I still don't really know if I did everything right, heehee :)

    Hi Bea! Your site always makes me hungry :)

    Hi J.noelle! Thanks for visiting :) Sounds good and will check that out!

    Hi M! Your own ricer, lucky girl! Try the Tyrolean bacon...I got it in Santis :)

    Hi K&S! Thank you for the heads up :)

    Hi Docchef! Nice to know we've got Jeffrey Steingarten on our side :)

    Hi Thess! I also froze some for a later date :) I hope you're enjoying the weekend as well!

    MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

    Bacon and Potato Gnocchi - this must be heaven. Yes, Joey I do believe bacon is a panacea and this dish looks heavenly.

    SteamyKitchen said...

    bacon in anything is gooooood

    katrina said...

    What an inspired combination! Especially since your gnocchi was made with potatoes -- potatoes and bacon being a classic combo. And I heart arugula too.

    I've always said that I wouldn't have much trouble giving up meat, especially pork...but I just recently realized that I canNOT give up bacon!

    Paz said...

    Your dish looks absolutely appetizing.


    ChichaJo said...

    Hi Tanna! Thanks :) We go to the same doctor I see...Dr. Bacon ;)

    Hi Jaden! No arguments here :)

    Hi Katrina! Yes, bacon and potato is a terrific combination :) Haha...I couldn't give up bacon ever!

    Thanks Paz! :)

    Sarah said...

    Ooh...yeah, I'm gonna have to make that!

    Brilynn said...

    That looks absolutely fabulous! I want some immediately!

    ChichaJo said...

    Hi Sarah! Thanks for stopping by :)

    Hi Brilynn! Thanks :) Wish I could exchange with you some for your lemon ricotta ones!

    Kelly-Jane said...

    It's pretty cool here now, and this is just what I'd like to be eating! Yum.

    Tartelette said...

    Gorgeous entry and once again you keep with the spirit of Donna Hay. You are one of her best ambassadors!

    ChichaJo said...

    Hi Kelly-jane! Yup, this can keep you warm on a cool day :)

    Hi Helene! Thank you! What a sweet thing to say :) Well, Donna has treated me very well too with all her yummy and easy to make food...and inspiring food styling :)

    Isabel Lopez Coll said...

    I'm going to try it out.
    It looks great!!!