I recently had a friend visit me, and I could not figure out where to take him for dinner. It’s not like there is a shortage of top-notch restaurants with a farm-to-table aesthetic and warm, romantic setting — quite the opposite, in fact. However, at the end of a rainy winter day, all I wanted was to head back to my apartment and keep warm: talking, cooking, and most of all, eating. I mean, is there any place better to entertain than the comfort of home?
In the end, dazed and delirious, we succumbed to cheap noodles in the city. If I could do it again, I wouldn’t think twice about making this hearty gnocchi dish at home, creating new (and edible!) memories together. Whether it’s your out-of-town friend, trusty BFF, or your dear husband, Sarah Copeland’s Newlywed Cookbook has a plethora of recipes fit for a comfortable night in, sharing the culinary experience and warding off winter.
Fresh food, prepared with love, is a key ingredient to happy, healthful, and playful relationships. It’s much easier to laugh through a disagreement when your bellies are full of delicious, nurturing food (believe me, I’ve softened an argument more than once with a bowl of something sweet) and it’s easier to continue loving a person through their faults when that’s the same person you get down-and-dirty with in the garden and at the kitchen sink, wiping up the pots and pans of a feast you’ll remember. It’s hard not to love the person who just spent their evening making chocolate pudding from scratch or who missed an extra hour of sleep to have a fat stack of pancakes waiting for you on a Saturday morning when you wake up.
Homemade Gnocchi With Haricots Verts
It’s time to roll up your sleeves. Grab your guy or gal, pluck some fresh baby beans from the garden or grocery, and get busy rolling your own little pillows of pasta. Gnocchi made fresh at home with pureed potatoes and flour is a lighter, more luxurious version of the hearty dish most of us think of. This one is ethereal and bright with the snappy fresh beans and herbs and is worth every precious minute you two spend in the kitchen together. Once you become the accomplished pasta maker you always aspired to be, invite friends for a DIY double date.
- 4 medium russet or Idaho potatoes, scrubbed (about 2 1/2 lb.)
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for garnish
- 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups all-purpose/plain flour
- 1 tsp sea salt
Herb Butter Greens
- Sea salt
- 8 oz fresh green or yellow beans or haricots verts, trimmed
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp fresh tarragon leaves
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 3/4 cup chicken broth or water
- 2 tbsp torn or chopped fresh mint leaves, for garnish
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
To make the gnocchi dough:
Prick the potatoes all over with a fork and place on a rack in the center of the oven. Bake until the flesh is soft in the middle (can be squeezed easily with a kitchen towel) and the skin is crisp, about 1 hour. Remove from the oven.
Cool the potatoes until they are still warm but cool enough to handle. Halve them lengthwise and scoop the potato flesh into a bowl. Pass through a potato ricer, food mill, or smush through a coarse sieve to make a fine, fluffy pulp. Add the egg, butter, Parmigiano-Reggiano, 1 cup of the flour, and salt and stir together gently with a fork, using a light touch, until the dough comes together in a soft, slightly sticky ball.
Turn the dough onto a clean, lightly floured surface and knead until it forms a soft dough, about 1 minute. Add 1/4 cup of the remaining flour.
Divide the dough into four pieces. Halve each piece so that you have eight small balls of dough. Roll each piece into a long rope about 12″ long. Divide each rope into 3/4″ pieces using a pastry cutter or knife. Transfer the pieces to a lightly floured plate or baking sheet/tray and cover with a dry towel until you’re ready to cook them.
To prepare gnocchi with herb butter and greens: Bring a large pot of water to a roaring boil over medium-high heat. Salt the water generously with sea salt. Add the beans and cook until bright green and crisp tender, about 6 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Drain and set aside.
Return the water to a rapid boil. Add the gnocchi to the boiling water an cook until they float to the top and are firm, about 3 minutes. Drain and reserve the gnocchi in about 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid to keep them warm and moist.
Melt the butter with the tarragon in a large saucepan over medium-low heat and swirl to melt and flavor the butter. Add the gnocchi, reserved in cooking liquid, and green beans to toss and coat. Loosen with chicken broth (or water, if you’re cooking for a vegetarian) and cook until the sauce coats the gnocchi with a glomming sheen. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
To serve, divide the gnocchi and beans among four bowls and grate fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano over the top. Season with salt and pepper and top with mint. Serve immediately.
Thanks to Sarah Copeland and the folks at Chronicle Books for sharing this delicious recipe with us. For more tasty inspiration to prepare and enjoy with your main squeeze, check out a copy of Sarah Copeland’s The Newlywed Cookbook Fresh Ideas & Modern Recipes for Cooking With & for Each Other.
Aleksa Brown is an associate editor at Etsy.