I added the baby arugula and peas at the very end of the risotto's long cooking process in order to retain their texture, fresh flavor and bright color. Inspired by my recent wine tasting in Taormina, I paired the risotto with this Sicilian wine.
I have always been crazy for gnocchi. One of the first things I learned when I started studying Italian is that the word gnocchi is plural for many gnoccho. And many is what you need to make in order to feed a crowd - even if the crowd is only three, as it was for this batch. While the project may seem daunting, it is in fact quite simple once you get the feel for it.
Gnocchi may be made either with or without eggs. I do not know why someone would choose to add saturated fat, cholesterol, calories and cruelty unnecessarily. This dough was a simple combination of potatoes and flour. The key to light gnocchi is to incorporate as little flour as possible. Therefore, it is best to bake the potatoes in order to avoid excess water that will only need to be absorbed by the addition of more flour.
After baking four starchy potatoes I pressed through a ricer while still hot. Using a ricer is the only way to keep the potatoes, and the resulting dough and gnocci, fluffy and light. I did not measure the flour, but kept adding it, a small scoop at a time, until the dough just held together. I think it turned out to be about two cups. This photo shows the dough before I turned it out and kneaded it on the counter.Gnocchi dough is warm and puffy and easy to work with. Using my hands, I broke off small pieces and rolled them into ropes about a half inch thick. Then I them cut crosswise into 3/4 inch pillows. While I was working I had a large pot of salted water boiling on the stove. I'll admit that I tried to press ridges into the dumplings against the back of a fork and nearly had a nervous breakdown. Even with my mother's help this small detail would have doubled the time of the entire project. So we scrapped that idea until I purchase a gnocchi board.I cooked the gnocchi in batches until they rose to the surface of the water, and using a spider, removed them to the simmering sauce. I kept the sauce simple so I could analyze the taste and texture of the gnocchi. After pureeing tomatoes in my Vitamix I reduced them down for several hours along with a very aged balsamic vinegar.
While mushrooms are not typically included in arrabbiata sauce they were a welcome addition here. I used a packet of spices I brought back from Rome that included slivers of dried garlic and chili peppers.
Soba are Japanese noodles made from buckwheat flour. They are gluten free, higher in fiber and protein, and about half the calories of traditional pasta. Soba noodles are usually served cold. I dressed these in a combination of rice vinegar, soy sauce and canola oil, and tossed them with a peeled, seeded and sliced English cucumber and chopped mint.
A velvety combination of egg yolks, lemon zest, Pecorino Romano and black pepper. I first tempered the yolks with the salty, starchy pasta water before whisking in the lemon zest and parsley and tossing all the ingredients together right before serving.
These shirataki noodles come in a variety of shapes and are a great, almost calorie-free, alternative to pasta. I think they work best in soups. Here I combined them with scallops, squid, bok choy, shiitake mushrooms, scallions, saffron and cilantro for a light Asian meal. These mexican fish bowls made the perfect presentation.