Lighten pillowy gnocchi with zesty vinaigrette

Pesto, the impetus for this blog’s past few posts, is one of my favorite sauces for gnocchi.

The potato-based dumpling just doesn’t play particularly well with tomato-based sauces. And gnocchi are enriched enough with egg yolk that a cream sauce seems like overkill.

Despite its starch-on-starch composition, pasta dishes traditional to the Italian region of Liguria, where pesto is ubiquitous, often incorporate green beans and potatoes. The pesto’s acid and herbs lighten up the potato, which absorbs both flavors so readily.

So it should come as little surprise that a vinegary, mustardy, garlicky vinaigrette is the suggested seasoning for these gnocchi, courtesy of the Chicago Tribune. Pairing gnocchi with Dijon mustard may be the magic bullet that gets my husband to finally eat the dumplings again after years of conviction that he doesn’t like them. Top-quality, locally grown potatoes may do the trick, too.

Given the warm winter, it shouldn’t be long before local morels could take the place of this dish’s button mushrooms.

Tribune News Service photo

Gnocchi With Greens

1 large (3/4 pound) russet potato, scrubbed

1 egg yolk

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for cooking water

Freshly ground nutmeg, as needed

Up to 1/2 cup cake flour

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup sliced white mushrooms

2 teaspoons rosemary, fresh or dried, chopped

Vinaigrette (recipe follows)

3 ounces baby arugula

Truffle salt, to taste

Parmesan cheese, for serving

Stab the potato twice with a sharp knife. Bake at 425 F until tender when squeezed, for 55-60 minutes. Alternatively, microwave until tender, for 5 to 6 minutes. Halve baked potato and press through a potato ricer. Discard skin.

Drop the yolk onto potatoes, scatter on the salt and a few grates of the nutmeg. Stir with a fork, just to combine. Sprinkle on 2 or 3 tablespoons of the flour and mix gently to form a soft dough, adding flour as needed — you may only need half of flour quantity listed.

Divide dough in 4 portions. On a floured surface, roll each into a ¾-inch-thick rope. Slice crosswise into 1-inch segments. Flip pieces over a fork, tines resting on table. Roll each gnocco down back of fork, pressing lightly, to imprint grooves.

Drop gnocchi into simmering, salted water in batches. Gnocchi will sink, then, in about 1 minute, float. Count 10 seconds. Scoop out with a slotted spoon and cool on a kitchen towel.

In a wide skillet, heat the butter and oil over medium. Slide in gnocchi and the mushrooms; sprinkle with rosemary. Toss until golden-brown, for 3 to 4 minutes. Pull out with a slotted spoon and toss with half of vinaigrette.

Toss the greens with vinaigrette to taste. Heap on each of 3 plates. Spoon gnocchi and mushrooms on top. Sprinkle with the truffle salt. Carve on some curls of the Parmesan. Enjoy.

Makes 3 servings.

VINAIGRETTE: Let 2 tablespoons peeled and chopped red onion mellow in 1 1/2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar for 20 minutes. Whisk in 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, 3/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard, 1/4 teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes and a little garlic mashed with salt.

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