Gnocchi in Tomato Broth
When searching for a tomato recipe, I wanted to try out something that felt grand. Outlandish even. After such a long wait for this crop to finally ripen up to harvest, a bit of theatrics felt necessary. To accent our abundance of potatoes this season, there feels like no better way to enjoy the summer bounty than by pairing gnocchi with fresh, homemade tomato broth and ribbons of basil.
How do we grow our tomatoes? Well, every season so far (and please keep in mind that as of typing this we are in the midst of season three) there have been modifications to how we grow tomatoes. Fortunately, this season is shaping up to be the best yet! We seed in very early April, using heat mats and frost cloth to keep everything warm for germination. After about a month, we “pot up” the crop, meaning that we move the small seedlings into bigger cells so that they have even more space to grow. Pairing this timing with a fresh batch of soil full of extra amendments and perhaps even a boost of compost tea is really beneficial. Once all threat of frost is over, we move them outside in single rows per bed, eighteen inches apart. Keeping up with pruning and trellising is extremely helpful for us, so we are sure to train the varieties we grow to two stems (at least for the slicing varieties) and prune heavily around the base of the plant to help allow better airflow and to prevent disease. While all of these things have helped this seasons tomato patch look better than ever... they still seem to take quite a while to ripen. This may be due to the location we selected to grow, but if you have any ideas on how to help boost our tomatoes, please let me know!
Enough about growing tomatoes though! It’s time to talk about preparing them for this dish.
Gnocchi in tomato broth is one of the most impressive summer dishes I’ve ever made. While it may seem impossibly complex, I promise you that if you actually follow the instructions... you can’t go wrong! If you’d asked me yesterday if I thought this recipe would work out, I would have told you no. I was fully prepared to post my first true recipe fail, but it looks like we’re just going to have to wait and see what that ends up being!
This homemade tomato broth captures the flavors of summer, combined with fluffy potato clouds (aka gnocchi) making for a delicate and impressive meal.
The original recipe inspiration came from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman on page 117. I hardly modified it, but what was changed is included in the recipe below.
Yield: 2 1/2 to 3 cups of broth and 85 to 100 gnocchi, serving four
2 medium carrots, chopped
1 small yellow onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup water
Two medium sized tomatoes, cut into chunks
Small handful of fresh basil leaves, plus more for garnish
2 cups vegetable stock
Salt & Pepper to taste
2 pounds Satina potatoes (or a comparable potato variety)
1 large “egg” substitute ( I made a double batch of Ener-G egg replacer)
1 teaspoon table salt
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour, plus more for dusting surface
Bake potatoes. Preheat over to 400 degrees. Bake potatoes for 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on size, until a thin knife can easily pierce through them. Meanwhile, prepare the tomato broth.
Make tomato broth. Heat the oil in a heavy pot over medium-high heat. Once it’s hot, add the carrots and onion and cook together for 5 minutes, reducing the heat to medium if they begin to brown. Add the garlic, and cook for 1 minute more. Pour in the wine, and use it to scrape up any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pan, then cook the wine until it is reduced by half, for several minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, plus a half cup of water, add the basil and stock and simmer until the tomato broth thickens slightly, for about 45 minutes. Strain out the vegetables in a fine-mesh colander, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside until needed.
Make gnocchi. Let the potatoes cool for 10 minutes after baking, then peel them with a knife or peeler. Run the potatoes through a potato ricer or grate them on the large holes of a box grater (or shred them in a food processor like my lazy self did). Cool them to lukewarm, about another 10 minutes. Add the egg replacer and salt, mixing to combine. Add 1/2 cup flour, and mix to combine. Add next 1/2 cup of flour, a tablespoon at a time, until the dough is a good consistency. You want it to be soft and a little sticky, but able to hold its shape enough to be rolled into a rope. Knead the dough together briefly on a counter, just for a minute.
Divide the dough into quarters. Roll each piece into a long rope, about 3/4 inch thick. Cut each rope into 3/4 inch lengths. At this point, you can use a floured fork or a gnocchi board to give it the traditional l ridges, but I definitely didn’t bother with this step. Place the gnocchi in a single layer on a floured surface. Freezing notes: if you want to freeze any gnocchi, be sure to freeze them while they are on the tray and then scoop them into a bag to kept them separate and not one big mass.
Cook the gnocchi. Place the gnocchi, a quarter batch at a time, into a pot of boiling, well salted water. Cook the gnocchi until they float, about two minutes, then drain. (Frozen gnocchi will take about a minute longer).
Assemble dish. Meanwhile, reheat brother to simmer. Add drained gnocchi and reheat through. Serve gnocchi and broth together, garnished with extra slivers of basil.