Friday, October 7, 2011

Green olives and smoked mozzarella
add cleverness to gnocchi dish

A clever recipe, to me, is one that can be made quickly and easily but still has plenty of flavor thanks to some well-selected ingredients.
   That’s why Gnocchi with Fresh Tomatoes, Green Olives and Smoked Mozzarella (click for the recipe on the Food Network website) qualifies as a clever recipe in my books. The recipe is from iconic chef Mario Batali.
   The green olives add a welcome briny saltiness, while the smoked mozzarella actually does add a mild smoky taste.
   Both flavors are absolutely perfect with the tomatoes and the sauce it creates. We were lucky enough to use fresh tomatoes from my mother’s garden in the dish.
   I wasn’t able to find smoked mozzarella, but a worker at the local gourmet cheese store handed me a suggested substitution: Smoked caciocavallo, a type of stretched curd cheese. It worked very well.
   I venture to guess that smoked gouda may also make a possible substitute, but don't hold me to that!
   Instead of making homemade gnocchi, we used store-bought.
   In the case of the green olives, we used jarred, sliced and pitted green olives.
   We substituted fresh oregano for fresh marjoram, which is hard to find.
   One pound of fresh tomatoes are chopped into ¼-inch cubes, with all juices being reserved.
   In a sauté pan, the garlic and tomatoes and its juices are cooked. Off heat, the olives are added and stirred in.
   The gnocchi is boiled, drained, and poured into the pan with the tomato mixture, which is returned to the heat and tossed gently until bubbling.
   The marjoram (we used fresh oregano instead) and ¼ cup of cubed smoked mozzarella is stirred into the mixture until the cheese is melted.
   The recipe says to pour the tomatoes and gnocchi into a heated serving dish, but we simply served it from the pan.

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