Gnocchi with Rapini and Sausage
My husband and I are both from Italian backgrounds and grew up with Nonna’s who are amazing cooks. The favourite and most requested dish of all the grandchildren, has always been the gnocchi, so it is a food that evokes fond memories of big family gathering for both of us and I felt it was worthy of my first blog post.
It wasn’t until a few weeks ago, that I decided to try making gnocchi myself. I used a Martha Stewart recipe because I find her recipes always turn out well. I followed her recipe exactly (although I did use Russet and not Idaho potatoes because that is what my husband’s Nonna suggested) and it turned out fantastic. The gnocchi were the perfect texture – not to hard and not to soft. They froze well too (I first froze them individually on a floured baking sheet and then put them in a Ziploc bag so they wouldn’t clump together.
The first time I made the gnocchi I paired it with my usual tomato and meat sauce but the second time I ventured out a bit and made a sauce with rapini and sausage. I love the slightly bitter taste of rapini (or broccoli rabe as it is also known as) which balances well with the saltiness of the sausage.
Rapini is also a nutritional powerhouse and is a good source of Vitamins C, K, folate, potassium, beta-carotene, and lutein (which is an antioxidant that helps keep your eyes healthy).
GNOCCHI WITH RAPINI AND ITALIAN SAUSAGE Notes: use a pan for the sauce that will be large enough to hold the cooked gnocchi and sauce.
I did not use any extra salt in the sauce part of the recipe because I find sausage to generally be salty enough
2 Italian sausages, casing removed (you could use mild, hot, fennel or whatever flavour you like; I used pork sausage but you could also use turkey to reduce the fat content a bit)
2 cloves of garlic, minced,
Hot pepper flakes (amount to your preference)
1 bunch of rapini, stems and stocks, chopped into 1-inch pieces
½ - ¾ cup chicken stock
1lb homemade (or store-bought) potato gnocchi
Grated Parmesan cheese (for serving)
In a large pan over medium-high heat, brown the sausage meat, breaking it up with a wooden spoon as it cooks (I did not add extra oil to the pan because my meat was fatty enough). Add the garlic and sauté until the sausage meat is cooked through. Add chili flakes.
Slowly add the rapini, mixing it into the sausage to combine. Add the chicken stock (the stock helps the rapini break cook down) and cook until the rapini has softened and is tender.
Cook the gnocchi in a large pot of boiling, salted water. They take about 2-3 minutes and you know they are done when they start to float to the top. Remove them with a slotted spoon and add them to the sausage/rapini to combine.
Serve with a sprinkle of grated Parmesan cheese.