There have been two very exciting developments in my food world recently. The first is that the BC Law cafeteria is now stocking my favorite hot sauce! If you do not know which hot sauce I am referring to, please see this post. It has made my school lunch options infinitely better. Also, I have decided what I’m going to be for Halloween next year! I can’t believe I didn’t think of this before.
The other exciting development is that my local Whole Foods now has burrata! My favorite cheese is notoriously difficult to find because it has an extremely short shelf life. And since it is primarily imported from Italy, it usually comes with a steep price tag. Luckily, more and more creameries in the U.S. are starting to make it! Burrata is essentially mozzarella wrapped around creamy cheese curds. This appetizer was inspired by the burrata at Dino, one of my favorite Italian restaurants in D.C. Originally, I planned to make just the red pepper puree and not the tapenade. But then I bought nicoise olives for the gnocchi...the store was out of pitted olives so I thought I would be able to just do it myself. This did not go according to plan. Have you ever tried to pit an olive without completely destroying it?! Not so easy. The only thing I could do was slice off thin layers around the pit so instead of putting these sad little slices in the gnocchi, I pureed them for the burrata. Ten thousand hours later, I was left with a pathetically small pile (see the picture below). Luckily, it was the perfect amount for the tapenade and I ended up with an accurate re-creation of Dino’s appetizer. I also have a new appreciation for the people in charge of pitting olives.
Some of my long-time readers may notice that I have already blogged about this gnocchi. I decided it deserves another post since I never actually listed the full recipe. This is actually a slight variation because I added corn to it for the first time (which I highly recommend doing). Like many of Thomas Keller’s concoctions, this dish is a bit daunting and it has quite a few steps. However, I’ve been making it for almost ten years now and I promise it is very forgiving if you make small mistakes or adjustments. It is definitely time consuming but it is a fun project if you want to spend a day in the kitchen. Prepare all of the ingredients before you start cooking the gnocchi because it comes together very quickly. Your kitchen should look like a Food Network show set. I made the summer version of the gnocchi because when I cooked it (this was a few weeks ago) it was hot in Boston and the summer produce looked better than the squash. Now we are having a thunder/snow storm and it is FREEZING outside. If you are also experiencing cold weather and want to make the winter version with butternut squash and shitake mushrooms, the recipe can be found here.
|Par-boiling the gnocchi|
|Drying after being lightly boiled. At this point they can be frozen or used right away.|
|Everything ready to go!|
from the Bouchon Cookbook by Thomas Keller
makes 4 servings
6 to 8 ounces (2 small) zucchini
6 to 8 ounces (2 small) yellow squash
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ recipe Herb Gnocchi (click here for recipe), thawed if frozen
4 large sage leaves, cut into chiffonade
24 Nicoise olives, halved and pitted
8 ounces mixed heirloom tomatoes, halved
1 ½ tablespoons minced chives
1 tablespoon chopped Italian parsley
Halve the zucchini and yellow squash lengthwise and remove the seeds by scraping them out with a small spoon. Cut the squash into ¼ inch wide pieces. Toss the squash with salt and pepper to taste.
Pour a light coating of olive oil into a large sauté pan and place over medium-high heat. When the oil is very hot but not smoking, add the squash and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring often, until tender but not browned. Drain on paper towels.
The gnocchi should be cooked in a large pan. Pour a light coating of olive oil in the pan and heat over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of butter to the olive oil. When the butter has browned, divide the gnocchi between the pans and season to taste with salt and pepper. Once the gnocchi have begun to brown, add the sage to the pan, then shake and rotate so that the gnocchi brown and crisp on all sides, about 2 ½ minutes total.
Add the squash, olives, tomatoes, and chives and heat just through. Spoon the gnocchi and vegetables onto serving plates and return the pan to high heat. Add the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter and cook until it is a rich brown, then quickly add the parsley to crackle for a few seconds. Standing back (the butter will spatter) add a squeeze of lemon. Spoon the brown butter and herbs over the gnocchi and around the plates.
BURRATA WITH TAPENADE AND RED PEPPER PUREE
3-4 roasted red peppers (I used jarred, but you can make your own if you don’t mind peeling the skin off)
1 tablespoons olive oil
kosher salt to taste
½ cup Nicoise olives, PITTED
1 tablespoon olive oil
To make the red pepper puree, combine the red peppers, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and salt to taste in a food processer and blend until smooth. Add more olive oil if necessary.
To make the tapenade, combine the olives and 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a food processor and blend until smooth.
Serve the burrata with the two purees and a baguette.