Happy New Year!

J and I decided to stay in and cook something really decadent for New Year’s this year. We both have fond memories of the time we made gnocchi in my kitchen back in Cambridge, so we decided to try ricotta gnocchi this year. I followed this recipe from the NY times, just leaving out the sage. We decided to pair the gnocchi with a spicy arrabiata sauce plus a simple salad and some bread.

The gnocchi were actually much simpler than the potato version. I just mixed together the eggs, ricotta, parmesan and flour. I also added in about a 1/4 cup of fresh basil to the batter as well. We just used a teaspoon to drop little balls of the batter into boiling water, and then fished them out again as soon as they floated. They cooked very quickly, maybe 1-2 minutes. Once they’d cooled for a few minutes on paper towels, we browned them in just a little bit of butter.
Ricotta Gnocchi

J’s spicy red sauce was pretty simple. Just saute garlic and red pepper flakes in olive oil for a few minutes, then add a 28oz can of diced tomatoes. We used ones with italian herbs as well. Then add about a 1/2 cup of red wine, plus some basil and oregano, and cook down a little. It was really good and super chunky. Next time I think we’d puree half of the sauce. Still, with fresh basil and parmesan on the gnocchi it was wonderful.
gnocchi with arrabiata

The salad was definitely secondary to the wonderful pasta, but it was still pretty good. Just romaine with blood orange segments and red onion, and a vinaigrette made with the blood orange juice.
blood orange and romaine salad

With champagne and cannolis for dessert, it was the perfect way to ring in the 2011. Italian food just always seems so celebratory to me. It can be fancy, but pasta is also always the perfect comfort food. I wonder if another cuisine had been introduced to the US earlier if we’d all have fond memories of paella or souvlaki instead. I’ve promised J that we can branch out in our cooking this year, so with a few good ethnic cookbooks in hand I’m going to brave some new styles of cooking in 2011.

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