Los ñoquis del 29: arugula gnocchi

Gnocchi is one of the many contributions of Italian immigrants to Argentinean cuisine. Gnocchi, which morphed into our ñoquis are, quite simply, a small flour and potato dumpling-like kind of pasta.

Local lore has it that many of those early immigrants found it hard to make ends meet and were hard up towards the end of the month before the next paycheque (or whatever means of payment was used then.) So they scrapped up a meal with only the cheapest of ingredients: water, flour, potatoes.

With the passing of time, eating ñoquis on the 29th of every month became a tradition. The superstitious among us put a peso note under their plate to attract good fortune.

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The participants of the international alfajor challenge are back, this time with the international ñoqui challenge in time for the 29th of this month.

Visit their blogs to see what’s cooking. Who knows, you may be inspired to make a delicious meal!

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I borrowed the following recipe for ñoquis de rúcula (arugula or rocket, depending on which side of the Atlantic you are) from Argentinean chef Pablo Massey.

Ingredients (serves 4)

1 egg

1 egg yolk

60 grams grated Parmesan cheese

A pinch of ground nutmeg

100 grams fresh arugula (spinach works well too)

500 grams ricotta cheese

150 grams all-purpose flour

Salt and pepper to taste

Put the arugula (or spinach) in a bowl and cover with boiling water for about a minute. Drain well (I wring it to remove the liquid. You want it fairly dry), chop it and set aside.

In a bowl, put the ricotta cheese, egg, egg yolk, nutmeg, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper and mix well. Add the arugula and mix. Then add the flour, mix and knead into a ball of dough.

Sprinkle some flour on a work surface. Take some dough and roll it with your hands until it looks like a wiener (like you used to do in kindergarten). Cut it into bite-size pieces.

Bring a pot of salt water to the boil. Add the gnocchi. They’ll be ready when they float to the surface (less than 2 minutes)

Then sauté in olive oil until golden.

Sauce (the recipe is my own)

10 roma tomatoes

3 or 4 cloves of garlic

1 tbsp dried sage

Olive oil

1 tbsp sugar

A handful of chopped olives

1 tbsp capers

Peel the tomatoes (make an X shaped incision, cover in boiling water for a minute. The skin comes off easily), chop roughly  and set aside.

Put some olive oil in a saucepan (5 or 6 turns of the pan), heat over medium-low fire. Peel and quarter the garlic cloves and gently caramelize in the oil (about 10 or 15 minutes). Remove the garlic and ad the chopped tomatoes, sugar, salt, pepper, and sage.

Cook on medium-low for about 45 minutes. Mash with a potato masher, add the chopped olives and the capers and finish with a squirt of olive oil.

Serve.

Enjoy.

Don’t forget to put some money under your plate, just in case.

Paula of Bee my Chef: Spinach gnocci

Meag of A Domestic Disturbance: Roasted beet malfatti with creamy Roquefort sauce

Katie of Seashells and Sunflowers: Butternut squash gnocchi with walnut cream sauce

Aledys from From Argentina to the Netherlands for Love: Gnocchi alla Romana on Argentinean Gnocchi Day

Rebecca from From Argentina With Love: Ñoquis del 29; A Family Tradition–Una Tradicion Familiar

Gnocchi

Alfajores de maizena for the international alfajor challenge

My friend Katie from Seashells and Sunflowers threw down the gauntlet and we took it up: an international alfajor challenge. Three Argentinians and three Americans tried different traditional alfajor recipes from Argentina for a group post.

An alfajor is a sweet treat similar to a sandwich cookie. Depending on the regional recipe, the cookie can be more or less moist, like cake, or harder like a biscuit. The filling ranges from dulce de leche to fruit preserve to meringue and they’re covered in chocolate or icing or dusted with confectioner’s sugar.

My mission was to make alfajores de maizena -Maizena is a traditional brand of corn starch and a household name in Argentina,- and since they happen to be my favourite kind of alfajor, I was more than happy to oblige. I made those alfajores for a dinner party my hubby and I threw in our Dallas home and got our American and British friends hooked on those little treats.

What you need

  • 5 oz (150 g) softened butter
  • 7 oz (200 g) sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 egg
  • 3.5 oz (100 g) flour
  •  10.5 oz (300 g) corn starch
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 tsp Cognac
  • 1 jar dulce de leche
  • Shredded coconut

How you make them

Beat the softened butter with the sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the egg yolks and the egg and beat well.

Sift together the flour, corn starch and baking soda and gradually add to the butter and egg mixture.

Add the lemon zest and liqueur and mix until the dough is smooth.

Sprinkle some flour on a work surface and start rolling out the dough to about ¼ inch thick.

Cut 2 inch rounds of dough and place on a cookie sheet (I did not grease it).

Bake in a preheated 300 ̊F oven for about 12 minutes. Don’t let the cookies turn golden.

Transfer to a cooling rack.

Once they’re cold, sandwich two cookies at a time with a dollop of dulce de leche. Press ever so slightly so that the dulce de leche oozes out and roll each sandwich on shredded coconut.

Recipe notes

  1. This recipe yielded 40 alfajores.
  2. I used a jar and a half of store-bought dulce de leche (actually, I smuggled it into the U.S. Shhhh!)
  3. I used some of my hubby’s 1974 Armagnac. Good quality booze equalled tastier treats.

Make sure you check out the other delicious alfajor recipes and photos:

Katie, Seashells and Sunflowers – alfajores marplatenses
Aledys, From Argentina to the Netherlands, For Love! – alfajores cordobeses
Meag, A Domestic Disturbance – alfajores santafesinos
Rebecca, From Argentina With Love –  alfajores mendocinos
Paula, Bee My Chef  –  Buenos Aires Foodies – alfajores salteños

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