Gnocchi alla Romana with Italian Sausage, Cavolo Nero and Provolone

Recipe for The Daring Kitchen
When I first learned about The Daring Kitchen, I was excited to join a group that would provide me with monthly culinary inspiration. This month’s assignment (and my very first with TDK) was created by Steph from Stephfood, our Daring Cooks’ July hostess. Steph challenged us to make homemade noodles without the help of a motorized pasta machine. She provided us with recipes for Spätzle and Fresh Egg Pasta as well as a few delicious sauces to pair our noodles with! Steph also encouraged us to make noodles that celebrated our culinary heritage. See Full Gnocchi Feast Menu
Not all gnocchi are created equal. While the potato variety are the industry standard, gnocchi can be constructed with many other grains to glorious effect. In fact, in Rome gnocchi are made from semolina and never with potato – think polenta cakes baked like a gratin rather than sauced (Ha! Those gnocchi are drunk, y’all!) These gnocchi are pretty forgiving and require a heck of a lot less rolling than the classic potato variety. Better yet, they are perfect for parties in that they can wait on you while you do other things. When you are ready to eat, simply pop the tasty buggers under the broil to finish them off and then serve.

Typically, these gnocchi are chilled, cut and then baked, but I like to brown them off in some olive oil first to keep them from getting too soft. I’ve also added sauteed cavolo nero (black kale or dinosaur kale), sausage and sharp provolone to bolster the flavor of the tender cakes. It’s a charmer, this one. And what good recipe isn’t.

Gnocchi alla Romana with Italian Sausage, Cavolo Nero and Provolone

6 tbs. of unsalted butter
2 c. whole milk
1 c. of chicken stock
1/4 tsp. salt
pinch of black pepper
1 c. of polenta
1/2 c. of locatelli
2 eggs

1/4 c. of olive oil
1 bunch of cavolo nero, ribs removed and chopped roughly
1/2 lb. of italian sausage, casings removed
1/4 c. of shredded sharp provolone
1 cl. of garlic, sliced into thin slivers

Bring the butter, milk, chicken stock, salt and pepper to a boil. Whisk in the polenta and continue to stir as it thickens, about 5 minutes. Allow to cool slightly and dribble in the egg, whisking the entire time so as not to end up with scrambled eggs. Pour out the mixture into a greased pan and let rest for an hour.

In a large, nonstick skillet, heat the olive oil. Use a 2 1/2 inch ring mold or the mouth of a glass to cut the polenta into circles. Fry the circles in the oil until browned on both sides (and feel free to be a frugal fanny and fry the cut pieces as well). Place the gnocchi into a greased baking dish and set aside.

Using the oil in the frying pan, add the sausage and cook until browned. Add the cavolo nero and garlic and cook until kale wilts and garlic is fragrant. Top gnocchi with sausage and kale and sprinkle provolone over the whole mess. Place under the broiler and bake until cheese is melted and bubbly. Let rest for a few minutes and then serve.