Wednesday, March 13, 2013

caramelized onion gnocchi in parmesan cream sauce

Gnocchi is one of my most favourite pasta type dishes, in fact the only thing that even comes close is fresh, home made pasta. With the dense yet pillowy texture and that perfect chew it's hard not to love. A perfect combination is created when you douse the gnocchi with a heavy cream sauce - it's hearty, heavy and just delicious. I don't make it often because the whole combination there is bad for my waistline (and my self esteem) but oh do I love it when I have it.

Looking at the gnocchi in the fridge, knowing that I was going to do a standard alfredo sauce on it I couldn't help but wonder what else to throw in. Asparagus is always an option, and it's delicious. Pretty much any green vegetable really, but I also wanted to add some depth of flavour. The richness of the sauce needed something a little bit complex to play against. Luckily my most recent kitchen obsession, caramelized onions, seemed like the perfect match.

Anything as creamy and rich as this does need some sort of green accompaniment to provide at least that illusion of eating healthy. A light salad of spring greens would do the trick, as would a side of broccoli or any other light vegetable. What I happened to have was asparagus, but any old green thing will do as long as it's fresh. I also maybe made stuffed mushrooms that inspired me to give my recipe a new spin there, but that's not so relevant to the gnocchi.

I also made a somewhat more perfected cream sauce this time round than in my last go. The trick, obviously enough, is a heavier cream so things thicken a little better. I also played somewhat with my ratios.

Caramelized Onion Gnocchi in Parmesan Cream Sauce

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 yellow onions, sliced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1 cup freshly grated parmesan
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • 1 package gnocchi
  1. In a stainless steel or cast iron saute pan bring the olive oil up to medium heat. Add the onions to the pan, lightly salt (use your first teaspoon salt here). Saute, stirring frequently, to caramelize. The process takes about 15-25 minutes and you're looking for the onions to begin to get crispy brown bits and the pan will get lots of little bits stuck on.
  2. Once the onions are caramelized, chuck in the 1 tablespoon butter and allow to melt and slightly deglaze the pan. Set aside for later.
  3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a roiling boil. When it's boiling, cook your gnocchi according to package directions which in my case was for two minutes.
  4. While the water comes to heat, melt the butter in a medium sauce pan. Add the cream to the melted butter and bring to a light simmer. The mixture will thicken fairly quickly as it simmers.
  5. When the cream and butter has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon, bring the heat down to the lowest setting and add the remaining salt, the pepper and your parmesan. Stir until the cheese melts entirely.
  6. Take the caramelized onions and add them to your cream sauce, stir it all up.
  7. Add the drained gnocchi to the sauce, stir it all up until the sauce is coating every delicious little bit of your gnocchi.
  8. Serve. Garnish with more parmesan if you want, but really? The sauce is enough.

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