No mother thinks to herself, “I hope my baby girl grows up to be a prostitute”, right? One day, if I ever miss two pills and find myself in “the family way”, I have no doubt that I will want nothing but the best for my children, even if that includes putting a moratorium on dating until the age of 25. You always want the best for your children. You take pride when they’re all dressed up for their very first semi-formal dance, and even when they’re far too old you still lick your finger and smooth back a cowlick once in a while. Or, so I imagine. However, as a gardener, I love it when the fruit of mine earth matures to be nothing better than brazen and bad.
Root vegetables which look like something else are particularly always a hit with me. Ginger might look like a little man or a pony, perhaps! Or there are the lewd horseradish that look less ‘pony’ and more ‘pony show’. However, not since my she-devil cherry tomato have I come across such a delightfully vulgar specimen as the one which I’m about to unveil.
Look at her, languidly laid out with her verdant fronds swept flirtatiously over to one side. What a skank. This is the carrot that has seen Basic Instinct just one time too many. You might think it looks orange, but to me this naughty carrot is GOLD!!
But just before I started to question my own proclivities for constantly seeing coochies on the cutting board, I turned the carrot to the side.
Yup. Looks like we’ve got a double feature on the playbill tonight, including Carrots Don’t Cry. I do, truly love a transgendered carrot. I also enjoy how he looks like he’s thinking, “Gotta go, gotta go, gotta go, gotta go -” whilst rocking back and forth in a kind of vegetable pee-pee dance.
The rest of the carrots I pulled were pretty banal in comparison to my dodgy daucus carota, but I was still convinced that they were destined for more than just sweet slaw or a beef stew. But of course! Carrots like this were just born to make nudies.
Ahem. Pardon me, I meant gnudis.
If you haven’t had gnudi before, think of them as a cross between gnocchi and the inside of a ravioli. Personally, because I’m a fan of exhibitionism whenever possibly, I like to think of gnudi as ‘nude’ ravioli because you keep the best part (cheesy filling, of course) without all that pesky pasta stuff to get in the way.
Carrot Gnudi with Caraway Brown Butter and Crispy Sage
Serves 3 as an entree with a side salad or 4-6 as an appetizer/small plate
- 1 lb carrot (about 2-3 large)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 400 g ricotta (1.75 cups)
- 75 g grated Pecorino Romano (3/4 cup)*
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour, divided, and more to dust
- salt and pepper
Caraway Brown Butter & Crispy Sage
- 3 tbsp salted butter
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
- 1 tsp caraway seeds
- 12 small sage leaves, or 6-8 large
* If you don’t have Pecorino Romano, Parmigiana Reggiano or Asiago would be a good substitute.
Preheat your oven to 375ºF. Peel the carrots and if they’re chubby you’ll want to cut them vertically in half. Toss the carrots with 1 tbsp of olive oil and tuck them in the oven to roast for 30-40 minutes, or until they’re tender and caramelized but not too dried out. You can turn the stove off, if you want, because you won’t be needing it any more.
Let the carrots cool for 5-10 minutes and then mash them into a pulp or puree them in a food processor.
Put the cooled carrot mash into a medium sized bowl. Dollop on the ricotta and crack in the egg. Sprinkle the Pecorino Romano into the bowl and season the mixture fairly liberally with salt and a hearty grinding of black pepper.
Mix the carrot and cheese mixture together until it’s fairly evenly combined. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of flour overtop and with a light hand you can fold the mixture together. You don’t want to have a heavy hand and beat the dang thing because your dumplings will end up dense, heavy and tough.
Put the remaining 1/4 cup of flour into a small, shallow dish. Carefully pat a golf ball sized amount of the mixture into a sphere and roll it around in the flour just until it’s coated. Put the completed balls on a lightly floured surface as you roll out the rest. You should have 18-22 gnudi when all is said and done.
Bring a pot of well salted water to a rolling boil. Gently drop the gnudi into the water in small batches of no more than 5-6 at a time. Cook the gnudi for 3-4 minutes, or until they bob up to the surface and stay there for 30 seconds. As the gnudi are done, lift them out with a slotted spoon and leave them on a lightly oiled or sprayed sheet to rest as you finish the rest.
When the gnudi are about half done, put the butter, oil smashed garlic and caraway seeds into a fairly large skillet over medium heat. When the butter is melted and starting to foam just a bit you can add the sage leaves. Let the sage leaves cook for no more than a minute or two, or until they curl up and start to look crispy. Remove the sage leaves and set them aside.
Continue cooking your butter until the color starts to deepen and turn a tawny golden brown. Turn the heat down to low and scoop out the garlic. Carefully add the gnudi to your pan (they will be delicate, so use a light hand), in batches if necessary, and gently toss them about until they’re evenly coated with the brown butter.
Serve the buttery gnudi with a few leaves of crispy sage scattered on top.
I feel that it’ worthy of note that although I’m not always a huge fan of sage, and tend to use it rather infrequently in my cooking because the flavor can be so overwhelming, crispy and buttery fried sage is one of my favorite things in the world. If they sold bags of it in the snack section of the supermarket, well, I would be even fatter than I am today.
Speaking of fat, I suppose that I should make a confession: I said that this serves 3 as an entree, and frankly if you had light eaters it would probably serve more, but Mike and I ate it all ourselves. Huh. That’s a half tub of ricotta each.
Well, okay, so I give him the Sumo portion and only keep a third for myself, so I guess that’s something. It means that I *only* ate 1/3 of a tub of ricotta and 1/4 cup of pecorino. Huh. But hey, I shouldn’t feel bad! We were celebrating! It was a special day! You know, uh, a Thursday. I mean, the day after Rememberance Day…..which, as everyone knows, is also known as Eat Cheese Until You Feel Slightly Nauseous Day.
(It’s my second favorite holiday, right after Hallowe’en)
You would support me in my massive cheese consumption though, if you took a look inside those pillowy soft and subtly flavored gnudi and knew that there was simply no other option. After all, they’re fragile and vulnerable but they still showed up naked to your party. The least you can do is bring them inside and pour yourself them a drink, because you’d hate for them to feel foolish after coming all this way……
And, just in case you had forgotten, I leave you with this:
Eating your veggies never tasted so good.