The Italian who decided to combine potatoes and flour to form pillowy gnocchi is an absolute genius in my book. Carb haters can balk, but I can’t help but indulge every so often in this rustic Italian creation.
There was a time in my life when I would have been happy to create gnocchi from scratch: cooking and mashing potatoes, slowly incorporating flour and eggs until I got the right consistency, rolling the dough out into thick ropes, cutting them into bite-sized pieces, pressing a fork against each piece to create ridges for trapping sauce.
Alas, my Italian grandmother days are over for now, and I’m all about that $1.99 vacuum-packed of pre-made gnocchi that I pick up from my local market. A few minutes in boiling water, and I have gnocchi ready to be sauced and dressed up however I want.
Since I’ve saved so much time by not making gnocchi from scratch, I can spend a few more minutes on that dressing. For this recipe, I’ve chosen kale and and my quick homemade take on sausage, a much healthier alternative to what you would buy pre-made. It’s really just a few shakes of spices and voila, you’ve got homemade sausage. And when you bring these three components together – gnocchi, kale, and sausage – you’ve created a dish that any modern Italian grandma would be pretty happy to serve.
- Ground meat - 1 lb. (I used ground beef but feel free to use anything)
- Salt - 1 tsp.
- Fennel seeds - 1 tsp.
- Black pepper - ¼ tsp.
- Red chili / pepper flakes - ½ tsp.
- Garlic - 2 cloves
- Onions - 1, diced
- Kale - 1 bunch, leaves / stems separated
- Gnocchi - 1 lb. (If you can't find vacuum-packed gnocchi in pasta section, go for your favorite pasta shape.)
- Olive oil - 2 tbs.
- Cooking oil - 1 tbs.
- Tomato paste - ⅓ cup
- Lemon - ½, juice of
- Parmesan (optional) - for serving
- Ground meat - Season ground meat with salt, fennel seeds, black pepper, and red chili flakes. (Can be done up to 1 day ahead)
- Garlic / Onions / Kale - Prep as directed. For kale, separate kale stems and leaves and chop stems into ½" pieces. (Can be done up 3 days ahead)
- Bring a saucepan of water to boil. Salt heavily (that water should taste like the ocean!) and add gnocchi. Cook according to package instructions. Drain, toss with 2 tbs. of olive oil, and set aside.
- Heat a saute pan over medium-high heat. Add cooking oil and then garlic to heated oil. Once you can smell the garlic, add the kale stems and onions with a dash of salt. Saute until softened, ~3 minutes.
- Add in ground meat and tomato paste, breaking up with a wooden spoon. Brown meat, 5 to 7 minutes.
- Add in kale leaves, as much as can fit into the pan. With each addition, add a pinch of salt. Saute until all the kale leaves are in the pan and wilted.
- Add gnocchi back into the pan, toss everything through, and finish with a squeeze of lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve warm with parmesan cheese.