Tuscany for the win. I was flipping through one of Rachael Ray’s magazines last week looking for some quick and easy dinner ideas, and came across Gnocchi alla Senese. Whatever that means. I like gnocchi so I read on. It sounded like a meat sauce with a whole bunch of herbs and flavors. But did I like all those ingredients? Italian sausage, check. Proscuitto, check. Walnuts, yes. Sage and parsley and rosemary, YES. Everything sounded like it would come together so nicely, and it did! Not exactly the ‘quick and easy’ recipe I was looking for, but I ripped out the page anyway. Here’s where I was wrong- this whole dish took me 25 minutes, start to finish. Not long at all; and the outcome far exceeded my expectations. Make it, enjoy it, and then take it into work the next day and make everyone jealous.
I made a ‘lightened up’ version using Italian chicken sausage in place of pork, lean proscuitto, and non fat half and half instead of heavy cream.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. By the time your sauce is simmering, it should be time to add in the gnocchi. Start by heating the olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet, (like, the biggest one you can find). Add the butter to the oil, and swirl until the butter foams. Add in the Italian chicken sausage and walnuts. Break the sausage up into small pieces and cook until the meat and nuts are browned, about 8 minutes.
Italian Chicken Sausage combines the fennel, garlic and herbs of traditional Italian sausage with the added taste of red peppers and low fat, skinless chicken. It’s a win-win for me; I prefer the taste and it cuts the fat content in half. Go ahead and use pork Italian sausage if that’s your preference.
Add in the shallots and garlic and stir until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add in the prosciutto and dried rosemary and stir until the prosciutto is heated through, another 2 minutes or so. Things are going to start to smell gooooood.
Pour in some cooking sherry to break up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan.
Add in the half and half and sliced sage and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and cook until most of the liquid has been absorbed, stirring frequently.
By now your water should be rapidly boiling and hungry for some gnocchi. Salt the water and boil the gnocchi until it floats, about 3 minutes. Use a strainer scoop or a slotted spoon to gently transfer the gnocchi out of the water and into the sauce.
There’s so many nice textures and flavors going on in this sauce. Try a bite to taste test.
Mix it up with the gnocchi, and go as wild as you want with the grated Parmesan and parsley.
Recipe adapted from Rachael Ray.