Frugal Family Feast: Gnocchi with Summer Vegetable Ragout

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Need an idea for a fridge full of fresh veggies? This week’s Frugal Family Feast serves up a recipe for gnocchi with a summer vegetable ragout to feed a family of four for less than $15.

Chef Rich Matthews, instructor at the International Culinary School at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale, shared his technique with Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson. Watch the video and read on for the recipe.

Gnocchi are a traditional Italian dumpling often made with potatoes. They are versatile and taste great with a variety of sauces.

Chef Matthews used plain baked potatoes as the base. You scoop the baked potato from the skin and finely mash using a ricer, food mill or fork. Then add flour, egg and seasonings, including a touch of nutmeg to give the dough a distinctive, rich flavor.

The secret to great gnocchi is to avoid over-mixing the ingredients. If the dough is too sticky, add a little more flour. You’ll roll up the dough into a log shape and cut it into bite-sized pieces. Then you cook them in boiling water until they float to the top. Scoop them out with a strainer and set on a plate lined with paper towel until you’re ready to serve.

A vegetable ragout goes perfectly with gnocchi. You can use any vegetables you have. Chef Matthews used one pan to sauté the veggies until they were softened. He thickened the sauce with seasoned heavy cream and chicken stock, finishing with Parmesan cheese.

You serve the gnocchi with a ladle of ragout and some more Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top. It’s a flavor-packed, satisfying dish that will become a family favorite.

Gnocchi with summer vegetable ragout – courtesy of the International Culinary School at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale

Ingredients for gnocchi:

  • 1 pound potatoes, baked, peeled and riced
  • 1¼ cup (or 4 ounces by weight) all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 2 quarts water in a pan to boil gnocchi

Ingredients for ragout:

  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups button mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 cup yellow bell pepper, cored, largely diced
  • 1 cup eggplant, largely diced
  • 2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup English peas
  • 4 Roma tomatoes, concassé (peeled, seeded and crushed)
  • 1 cup zucchini, largely diced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1½ cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

To prepare the gnocchi:

  • Bake the potatoes in a 350-degree oven until soft. Scrape the flesh of the potato into a bowl and mash. Use a potato ricer or food mill to get the best result, or use a fork and mash up finely.
  • Whisk the egg and add to the potatoes. Mix in the flour, salt and nutmeg until just incorporated. Over-mixing will make the gnocchi tough and chewy.
  • On a lightly floured surface, roll the potato mixture into a log about 1 inch thick and 10 to 12 inches long.
  • Cut into 1-inch pieces.
  • Drop into boiling water and cook till they float. Drain on a plate covered with a paper towel.

To prepare the ragout:

  • In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, heat the oil until it begins to shimmer.
  • Add the ­­mushrooms and sauté until light brown.
  • Add the yellow pepper and eggplant and allow to cook three to four minutes. You do not want to brown the vegetables. Wilt and soften them.
  • Add the garlic and cook two to three minutes or until you have a nice full garlic aroma coming from the sauté pan.
  • Add the English peas, tomatoes, zucchini, thyme, chicken stock and heavy cream. Allow this to come to a simmer, reduce heat slightly and cook about five minutes.
  • Add ½ cup of Parmesan cheese and cook together to thicken the sauce a little more.
  • Divide the gnocchi into four bowls. Ladle the ragout over the gnocchi and top with the remaining Parmesan cheese.

After you try this recipe, go to our Facebook page and let us know how you like it.

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