Tuesday, March 09, 2010

A Very Veggie Pesach: Potato-Cheese Gnocchi

This recipe is based on the Ricotta Gnocchi recipe from the Moosewood Cookbook, with ingredients adjusted to meet Passover requirements.  The switch from white flour to potato starch, necessary for Passover or gluten-free cooking, makes this recipe more like traditional gnocchi, which is made with potatoes.  It is not vegan (contains eggs and dairy) but is non-gebrochts and gluten-free (does not contain matzah).  In fact, I used to make this exact recipe for my grandmother, who was on a gluten-free diet for celiac disease. 

Ingredients:
  1. 1/2 pound shredded mozzarella cheese
  2. handful of fresh parsley, chopped
  3. 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  4. 1 pound cottage cheese (preferably small curd)
  5. 2 eggs, beaten
  6. 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  7. 1 cup potato starch
  8. 1/2 tsp. salt
  9. black pepper to taste (optional)
Kashrut Notes:
  1. Miller's Cheese sells shredded mozzarella in 8 oz (half pound) bags, which is kosher for Passover.  Miller's parmesan is also kosher for Passover.
  2. I have never been able to find kosher for Passover ricotta cheese, which is why I substitute cottage cheese in this recipe and the lasagna recipe.  If you can find it, mazel tov!  If not, Passover cottage cheese is much easier to find: in past years, some major national brands (including Breakstones and Light N' Lively) have produced a kosher-for-Passover run of cottage cheese.  Look for the words "Kosher for Passover" usually written on the plastic seal.
  3. Manischewitz makes kosher for Passover potato starch that is often available on the Passover section of a grocery store.  It's available on Amazon.com, but only in packs of 4.
  4. Whole eggs are kosher for Passover but must be purchased before the holiday begins
  5. Iodized salt is not kosher for Passover!  Star-K's Passover Guide says that non-iodized salts that do not contain dextrose or polysorbates may be used, but ideally you should try to find salt with Passover certification.
  6. Spices are not kosher for Passover without certification, and certified spices are hard to find.  Use fresh garlic and parsley, which are produce and not a Passover problem according to Star K's website. You can skip the pepper if you can't find certified black pepper in your Passover section.
Equipment:
  1. medium mixing bowl
  2. 2 or 3 quart saucepan
Preparation:
  1. Bring water to a boil in the saucepan
  2. Mix all ingredients together in the mixing bowl.  If it's not thick enough, you may want to add a bit more potato starch.
  3. Drop balls of about a tablespoon of the batter into the boiling water.  Note: all of the batter may not fit in one batch.
  4. Let the balls boil about 15 minutes.  They should be soft, puffy and floating lightly at the top of the water.
  5. Remove balls with a slotted spoon and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes (they will keep in the refrigerator for a week, if necessary).
  6. When ready to eat, broil for 5 or 10 minutes, until lightly browned
  7. Serve plain or topped with kosher for Passover tomato sauce, pesto sauce or Alfredo sauce.
Gefen makes some very good kosher-for-Passover pasta sauces, if you can find them, and they go very well over this gnocchi.  There are plenty of recipes online for pesto or Alfredo sauce, and I won't presume to choose one over another, but I'll just make a few comments about the ingredients.

Pesto is usually made with basil, garlic, parmesean, pine nuts or walnuts and olive oil.  Olive oil is no problem: OU's website currently states that all extra virgin olive oils are kosher for Passover without any certification.  Fresh basil and garlic are produce, as discussed above.  Parmesean is discussed above.  Nuts are a problem because they are normally packaged with preservatives BHA and BHT, suspended in corn oil.  Make sure you use nuts with Passover certification. If you can't find them locally, online vendor Oh! Nuts has Passover pine nuts and walnuts.

Alfredo sauce is usually made with butter, milk, cream and/or cream cheese, garlic, parmesan, parsley and black pepper.  Garlic, parmesan, parsley and black pepper are covered above (pepper is a problem).  Kraft's Philadelphia brand cream cheese usually makes a Passover run nationwide (look for the certification at the top right of the box), and several national brands of butter also do so.  Margarine is a problem, though: most margarines are made from non-Passover oils, particularly corn oil.  Many sources say milk does not require certification as long as it is purchased before Passover but certified is preferred, and in any case I have noticed the milk in my area usually has Passover certification.  I'm having trouble finding any specific statement about cream, so I would recommend looking for certification if your recipe requires it.

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