Marcella Hazan is largely credited with popularizing Italian cooking in North America, starting with the classes she held in her New York apartment in the sixties. Written in a warm, no-nonsense manner, her seven cookbooks, from 1973 to 2008, have become the indispensible authority for anyone who wants to learn the basic tips and techniques and user-friendly advanced methodology as well.
Marcella Hazan (nee Polini) was born in 1923 in Cesenatico in Emilia-Romagna, the northern Italian region whose capital is Bologna. She was not a classically trained chef, but came by her abilities naturally, growing up in a household where everyone cooked. It was this background that she relied on after marrying wine writer Victor Hazan and moving to New York City in 1955, having attained a Doctorate in Natural Sciences and Biology.
Whether discussing soups, pasta sauces, homemade pasta and gnocchi or traditional desserts, Hazan writes with a light and homey touch that makes exploring the pages of her books a delight and cooking her recipes a pleasure, the best way I can think of to chase away the winter doldrums.
Marcella Says…. Italian Cooking Wisdom from the Legendary Teacher’s Master Classes (2004) is one of myfavourite cookbooks, hands down. The recipes are straightforward and approachable, and offer a new insight into some old classics. Like gnocchi, the classic thick, soft pasta usually made with potato.
Here, from Marcella says…. is a wonderful recipe for gnocchi that uses carrot instead of potato. A simple, totally unique recipe to wow your family and dinner guests while adding a little pizazz to a blustery day.
Carrot Gnocchi (I Gnocchi di Carote)
“One of the bonuses for an Italian cook whose wine-writing husband roams the vineyards of the country is to discover unexpected dishes. We were in Friuli whose cooking I knew had a soft place for. But I was not prepared to find carrot gnocchi. I fell for them at first bite. Their color, their tenderness, their mildly sweet flavor reminded me of the pumpkin gnocchi they make in Venice, but these are more tender and lighter and more prettily shaped.” – Marcella Hazan
*for a vegan version of this recipe scroll down
1/2 pound carrots, about 5 or 6 of medium size
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon onion, chopped fine
3 tablespoons flour
1 egg yolk
5 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
Fine sea salt
Black pepper ground fresh from the mill
A pinch freshly grated nutmeg
3 fresh sage leaves
you will need an oven-to-table baking dish
- Wash and peel the carrots and trim the ends. Drop the carrots into boiling water and cook until tender, drain the carrots and slice them into 1-inch-thick rounds.
- Put 1 tablespoon of the butter and all the chopped onion in a medium skillet and turn on the heat to medium. Cook the onion, stirring from time to time, until it becomes coloured a pale gold.
- Add the sliced carrots and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, turning them over occasionally, then put them in a food processor and purée to a creamy consistency. Don’t worry if minute bits of carrot remain. Turn the purée out into a bowl and let cool completely.
- When the purée is completely cool, add the flour, egg yolk, 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan, salt, pepper, and nutmeg and mix thoroughly to combine all the ingredients into a uniform batter. Note: You can prepare the recipe up to this point several hours in advance.
- Turn on the oven to 400 degrees.
- Bring water to a boil in a broad shallow saucepan, and add 2 to 3 tablespoons of salt. Set a bowl of water with ice nearby.
- With a soup spoon, scoop up some of the carrot mixture.
- Holding a second spoon in your other hand and pointing the narrow tip of its bowl against the broad base of the bowl of the first spoon, scoop away the carrot mixture. Shifting the action to the first spoon, repeat the operation to produce a three-sided, oval-shaped lump of carrot mixture. Slide the lump off the spoon into the boiling water. Working quickly, add another 4 or 5 carrot lumps to the pan.
- Cook for 6 or 7 seconds, until all rise to the surface.
- Retrieve them with a slotted spoon and transfer them to the bowl of ice and water. Proceed in this manner until all the carrot mixture has been used.
- Choose an oven-to-table baking dish that can contain all the carrot gnocchi in one layer without crowding. Lightly smear the bottom with a little of the remaining butter. Retrieve the gnocchi from the ice water and arrange them on the bottom of the buttered dish. Tear the sage leaves into small pieces and scatter them over the gnocchi. Sprinkle the gnocchi with the remaining grated Parmesan and dot with the remaining butter. Bake on the upper shelf of the preheated oven for about 10 minutes. Serve directly from the baking dish
*In doing research for this post we came across this adaptation of Hazan’s recipe on Mike K’s blogsite, Vegan For the People, that would be perfect for vegans.