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Wisconsin Parmesan Gnocchi with Brown Butter and Sage

September 28th, 2010

by Kath of KathEats

I have a few cheese confessions – I may be a food blogger with an audience watching me cook each day but:

  1. I rarely cook with recipes because I am afraid of the unknown
  2. I am good with “throw together” dishes but I am not comfortable with anything baked or doughy
  3. I am afraid of fire and heat, and therefore afraid of the stove and oven
  4. I don’t like recipes that create a mess, on my hands or my countertops
  5. I generally make my husband, who is a baker, handle the above kitchen duties when we cook

So many confessions!

So when asked to test a Chef Michael Symon’s recipe from his new online cooking series, Favorite Foods with Chef Michael Symon, I was instantly drawn to the Wisconsin Parmesan Gnocchi with Brown Butter and Sage, because it would be a challenge for me, and I knew the challenge had to be 100 percent mine – even if my expert husband was hanging over my shoulder.

This gnocchi recipe was all about Wisconsin Cheese – using cheese in place of the potato in a traditional gnocchi recipe – Wisconsin Parmesan and Ricotta to be precise.

I am a true cheese lover – I liked Brie, as much as bread when I was little! My heart still sings to the tune of Blue cheese and great sharp Cheddar.

I also have to confess, I am not the biggest fan of Ricotta. My memory takes me back to gloppy lasagnas and bland ravioli. But while hunting for ingredients for the gnocchi, I found one and I fell in LOVE! This version tasted like cream!

AND it was low fat! It’s true – I substituted whole milk for low-fat ricotta. It was a bold move, but I can now say I don’t regret it. The low-fat version was still plenty tasty and the final dish turned out great. (I would not, however, recommend fat-free ricotta!)

Another healthy swap: We used half whole-wheat flour. Because, why not?

Add back some fiber, nutrients and flavor. The dish turned out perfect (as you will soon see) so I was pleased with this choice as well.

We also halved the recipe (it served two perfectly) and omitted the shallots because I don’t eat onions or onion relative – just a personal preference.

The Parmesan was freshly grated.

The lemon freshly zested.

Aside from the Wisconsin Cheese, of course, the lemon zest was my favorite part of this recipe – and reason why I should use both recipes and lemon zest more often! I never think to add zest to food, but my goodness it really brightened up the whole dish. The dough reminded me of a lemon square! It also pairs perfectly with the creamy Ricotta cheese and the tang of the Parmesan.

After adding the ricotta, egg and flours, I had dough.

I started out mixing with a spoon.

But this is where my expert baker of a husband interrupted his duties as a photographer and told me to just use my hands. Excellent idea! It was much easier. See – I told you I’m afraid to get dirty!

The whole dough process was easier than I’d imagined.

And soon enough I had two snakes.

Which went into the fridge to chill for about 30 minutes. (That’s all the patience I have!)

Don’t forget to enjoy some dough!

When the snakes were chilled, I cut them into pieces. (Also much easier than anticipated.)

Then plopped them one by one into my pan of lightly frothing butter. (My butter actually frothed like the recipe said! Score!)

I was a bit scared of the hot butter – but not too much.

The gnocchi browned up quickly and I had a bit of trouble flipping them, but after reducing the heat, all was well.

The rest of the party: Sage, garlic, lemon, Wisconsin Parmesan. I also need to cook with fresh herbs more often!

The Parmesan melted right in at the end.

Another nutritious swap from a Registered Dietitian: serve over a hearty portion of spinach dressed in lemon juice! We also added sea salt and black pepper to the top. This balanced out our rich, buttery dish.

The gnocchi were absolutely delicious. The butter and Parmesan and lemon worked so well.

And I LOVED the Wisconsin Ricotta and Parmesan base. In contrast to potato, the cheeses made the gnocchi fluffy and each bite reminded me of a lemony cheese Danish. Perfect for over a salad or in a hearty dish with a delicious creamy sauce!

This recipe definitely exceeded my expectations – and I’m hard to please! The only ingredient that was missing was a glass of chardonnay to enjoy it with. Guess I’ll have to make it again!

Kath Younger, RD writes a popular healthy food blog, Kath Eats Real Food, which you’ll find at www.KathEats.com, featuring photos of Kath’s meals while also sharing stories about her life and the recipes she and her husband create. Having lost over 30 pounds since graduating from college, Kath is a Registered Dietitian and is opening a Great Harvest Bread Company with her husband in Charlottesville, VA.

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