September 16, 2002
Dinner o' Pillows

Tonight's menu: seared scallops, ricotta gnocchi, and lemon-garlic broccoli rabe.

I'll start with the bad news. At the store, Carl picked up some broccoli rabe and was about to put it in the cart, when I reminded him that in my past endeavors my rabe recipes had been terribly bitter. "Don't worry," says Carl, "I'm sure there are ways to make it less bitter. We'll look it up when we get home."

[cut to dinner-making time]

Carl finds a Food Network recipe for broccoli rabe with garlic, red pepper flakes, and lemon (zest and juice). The "secret" to de-bittering is to boil it first, then sauté it. "Oh, goody," we think, "a recipe tailored to our very specific de-bittering needs!" We proceed with the recipe.

[cut to dinnertime]

IT WAS STILL BITTER! In fact, so bitter that, after a few bites, we ended up tossing it in the trash. And if you know us at all, you realize that this means the rabe was really quite awful. Tragedy.

Now onto part two, in which the dinner situation improves. We had bought sea scallops at the market, and simply seared them with salt and pepper in a nonstick pan with a bit of olive oil. They ended up as lovely, soft, buttery-sea-flavored pillowy buttons. mmmmm....

Also, Carl used our ricotta for a Mario Batali ricotta gnocchi recipe. Essentially flour, eggs, ricotta, salt, pepper, parsley, olive oil. The dough ended up somewhat sticky, but when it cooked up it was just fine. Again, pillows. While the gnocchi had a bit of the nearly-impossible-to-eliminate mouth stickiness that many gnocchi recipes suffer from, they were soft and plump and not leaden at all. Carl said he didn't taste the ricotta in the final product, and the ricotta flavor was indeed mild. But, in addition to impacting the texture hugely, I think I did sense a bit of the ricotta flavor. Ah, dining on pillows...

Ricotta Gnocchi:
1 small tub ricotta (~16oz)
2/3 cup flour plus more as needed
1 egg
1 tbs chopped parsley
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Stir all the ingredients together in a bowl. Add more flour if the mixture is terribly sticky. Using two spoons, form the dough into little pillows: get a spoonful of dough in one spoon and use the other spoon to round off the top. Once they are all formed, refrigerate the gnocchi for about 30 minutes to firm them up a bit. (Alternatively you could refrigerate the dough and form the gnocchi when you are ready to cook them.) Cook them in a pot of boiling water until they float to the surface then remove with a skimmer or slotted spoon. We then covered them in melted butter but they also would have been good with a tomato-based sauce.