Monday, April 20, 2009

Recipe: Gnocchi in Heirloom Tomato Sauce

I am made of cravings and I refuse to let the next 5 days of no working stove stand in the way of them. I’ve been seriously craving a good chunky, garlicky tomato sauce lately. I think the memory of the tomato relish that was on top of my dish at McCormick & Schmick’s a couple weeks ago has a lot to do with it, though it’s not exactly what I’m after right now. Still, it’s close, and with summer just around the corner (well, almost… it’s 96 here today so it feels like June), tomatoes are all I can think about. Tomatoes are usually all I think about anyway as I eat at least one a day, but I haven’t actually made anything with tomatoes in a very long time and there are so many beautiful ones cropping up all over the place that it seems a real pity not to.

My current tomato crush is on the tiny heirloom tomato mix that Trader Joe’s has been offering lately. Grape-and-cherry-tomato-sized and all shades of red, orange, yellow, and green, these little guys are bursting with flavor and so beautiful they would go with just about anything. Since I’ve also been craving some gnocchi (I currently have no patience to make my own, but someday soon I will), I thought a light flavorful sauce made from these tiny heirlooms would be a lovely complement to these wonderful little potato pillows. A welcome change from the heavier, cream-based sauces usually used on gnocchi, this seemed to be the perfect dinner for a warm spring day when paired with a nice salad and served with some chilled white wine.

If you don’t have a Trader Joe’s in your neck of the woods or a farmer's market that will sell the small heirlooms, don’t fret. Use a couple of large heirloom tomatoes (try to mix up the colors a bit for sauce aesthetics) and you’ll be set. Don't be afraid to almost overdo the garlic on this one; it does nothing but bring out the flavor of the tomatoes and adds a delicious aroma to the entire dish. And feel free to lay on the herbs heavily, too! Gnocchi is hearty and can absorb a lot of flavor, so go for it! Because you'll be using plenty of herbs and not a lot of salt, as well as fresh produce, this is definitely in the good-for-you category. But as always, the best part of this dish is the price. Even using fancy-schmancy tomatoes, this dish still goes for about a mere $3/serving or so. Adding salad & wine, you still have a delicious meal that costs less than your average fast food "value" combo. Gotta love that!

Gnocchi in Heirloom Tomato Sauce (serves 2; total cost per serving: $2.89)

1 lb mini heirloom tomato mix (or 2-3 large heirloom tomatoes)
1 16 oz. package gnocchi
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/2 large shallot, chopped
2-3 T olive oil
1/4 T sea salt
1/2 t oregano
1/4 t rosemary
1/4 t thyme
1/4 t fresh ground pepper
1/4 c white wine

Rinse tomatoes well and pat dry. Cut most of them in half unless they're rather large, in which case you should quarter them. The goal here is to have pieces about 1/2" - 3/4" in size. Set aside in a bowl. Coarsely chop the garlic & shallot. In the meantime, boil about 2 quarts of water in a large pot and salt well. When at a rolling boil, add the gnocchi. Cook until the gnocchi floats to the top; drain, add a drizzle of olive oil to prevent the gnocchi from sticking, cover & set aside.

In a large pan heat the 2-3 T olive oil over medium high heat. Add the garlic & shallots and cook for about 1 minute, or until very fragrant. Add the tomatoes and cook for about 1 minute. Next, add the salt, pepper, and herbs. Cook over medium heat for about 4 minutes, until the tomatoes release most of their juices. Add the white wine and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Do not overcook! Texture is key in this dish, so you want to make sure that you have sauce, but a lot of chunky tomatoes.

Spoon some gnocchi onto a plate and add a generous amount of sauce. Sprinkle fresh parmesan on top (if you have it), serve with a salad and a dry white wine, and enjoy!


  1. Oh my yummy! That looks and sounds wonderful. You are the best :)

  2. My goal for 2009 was to be adventurous in my food choices. So far you've introduced me to quinoa and now I'm going to try gnocci. So glad I found your blog.

  3. Where did you get the gnocchi? TJ's? I haven't seen it there but maybe I'm not looking hard enough.

  4. how perfect! i just happened to pick up some gnocchi at the store today and, as i don't care for marinara sauce, was wondering what to smother it in.

  5. Rachel, I've seen a couple different types of gnocchi at TJ's. The kind I got is the Fornari Italia Potato Gnocchi, a steal at $1.99. It's in the pasta section in a vaccuum sealed red & clear plastic package.

    Glad everyone's diggin' this recipe! I'm sad I had no restraint and ate the leftovers for lunch because I want more...

    :) PG

  6. I am really looking forward to making this recipe. I have been a veg my whole life (37 yrs) and truly appreciate all the yummy veg recipes :)

  7. I took your advice and got those tomatoes. Yum! They are really good in guacamole.

  8. We had this Saturday night and it was fantastic. It's great to find vegetarian recipes that are cost-conscious and fabulous. Thanks!

  9. Tried this two nights ago---LOVED IT! OMG! The sauteed blend of chunky chopped heirlooms, the spices, the olive oil & white wine--perfection. Thank you!



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