Hazelnut Spatzele

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After the success of my pistachio spatzele, which I made in an attempt to duplicate what I’d enjoyed at a restaurant, I started thinking about other possible spazele made with nuts. And of course I thought of my favorite nut – the hazelnut.

So I used my recipe except substituted hazelnuts for pistachios in the spazele batter, and again used the grater spazele maker. I served them in a gorgonzola cream sauce, and the result was fabulous.

One change I made was a result of a reader who suggested that my spazele could be longer. This is what my pistachio spazele looked like.

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Ginger, from the blog Ginger & Bread, commented… “I make the batter much more runny when using the grater, so that it almost drips through the holes by itself – as a result the Spätzle end up longer and thinner.”

We had a bit of back and forth, because I think that it’s clear in one photo from that post that my batter is on the runny side, but then I thought that because it was my first time using the grater, perhaps I moved the hopper too fast, and that was why my spazele were short.

In any case, I decided to make a runnier batter. And it didn’t work. I ended up with what looked like oatmeal. I’m actually surprised that the batter didn’t completely dissolve in the boiling water.

So now I’m wondering if it’s a factor of ground nuts being in this batter, and will try again using a traditional spazele batter. Because what Ginger says makes sense. It just didn’t work with this batter.

Hazelnut Spazele in a Gorgonzola Cream Sauce

1 cup cream or evaporated milk, at room temperature
2 eggs, at room temperature
2 ounces shelled hazelnuts, peels removed, finely ground
1 cup flour
Pinch of salt

Place the cream, eggs, and hazelnuts in a large bowl and whisk until smooth.
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Meanwhile, have the spazele grater gadget on top of a large pot of boiling water.
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Add the flour to the batter and stir gently. Then pour some batter into the carriage of the grater. Like I mentioned, I tried to move the carriage slower this time.
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I still got the same size spazele. After about 1 minute, using a spider sieve, remove them from the water, let the sieve drain on a tea towel for a second, then place them in a bowl. Continue with the remaining batter.
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I wanted this spazele dish to be simple, so I first added some crumbled Gorgonzola to the spazele, and then I added some warmed cream.


I topped the spazele with some toasted hazelnut halves.
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Serve immediately while still warm.
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I served salt and pepper, but I felt the spazele needed none of either.
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The hazelnuts and the Gorgonzola were a wonderful combination. But just like with the pistachio spazele, I’m not sure the ground nuts made a significant flavor contribution.
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Gorgonzola Sauce

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This post should really be entitled “Gnocchi with Gorgonzola Sauce,” but since I didn’t make the gnocchi myself, I’m just making this post about the sauce. Which, if you love any form of good blue cheese, you will love. I promise.

This Italian-inspired sauce is pretty rich, but you don’t make much of it by following this recipe. A little goes a long way.

The flavor profile is lovely, with the combination of the blue cheese, a little bit of bacon, and everything topped off with toasted pine nuts.

Keep in mind that if you don’t love blue cheese, any cheese can be substituted. Goat cheese would be incredible in this sauce. And you can always omit the bacon, although that would be a shame.

Gnocchi with Gorgonzola Sauce

4 slices, about 4 ounces, bacon, diced
1 teaspoon oil
2 small shallots, diced
4 cloves garlic, diced
2/3 cup cream of choice – I used evaporated milk
Crumbled blue cheese*, about 4 ounces or less if desired
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1 – 16 ounce package fresh gnocchi – these are actually mini gnocchi

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Toasted pine nuts

Heat a large skillet over high heat. Add the diced bacon and the oil; I used olive oil.
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Turn the skillet’s heat down to medium, and cook the bacon until mostly all done. You’re not going for crispy bacon, you’re just cooking it and rendering some fat in the process. Add the shallots and garlic.

(If you prefer to sauté the shallots and garlic in olive oil and omit the bacon step, you can always throw in some prosciutto at the end, before sprinkling the gnocchi with pine nuts.)

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Cook them for about a minute, then pour in the cream or milk you have chosen to use in the sauce.
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Keep the heat at about medium, and cook the cream mixture for at least 5 minutes at a nice simmer.
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After the liquid has reduced a little, stir in the blue cheese crumbles.
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Give them a gentle stir, then remove the skillet from the heat.

Cook the gnocchi according to package directions. Mine suggested a cooking time of 1 – 2 minutes. I stopped cooking at 1 minute, because I want the gnocchi to absorb the sauce. If necessary, more cream or milk can be added if necessary.

See how beautiful these gnocchi are? They really hold their shape.
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After cooking, drain the gnocchi well.
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Then add the drained gnocchi to the prepared sauce.
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Give everything a gentle stir, and then set the skillet aside. Have your toasted pine nuts handy.

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Just before serving, heat the gnocchi through. Add a little more liquid if necessary, if the gnocchi have absorbed a significant amount of the sauce.
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If desired, sprinkle the gnocchi with the toasted pine nuts. The crunch is delicious with the soft gnocchi.

note: This package of mini gnocchi, which I highly recommend if you don’t make your own gnocchi, makes 4 servings as side dishes, or two generous servings as entrées. I served the gnocchi along with steak and broccoli for dinner, but they would be just as fabulous as a vegetarian meal served along side a green or tomato salad.
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* I happened to have some leftover Gorgonzola on hand from Christmas, but any good Stilton or a Cambazola would work just as well. If you’re not fond of a strong blue cheese flavor, you can cut it in half with a mild cheese like a Fontina, a Chèvre, or even some cream cheese.

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