Tomato Seitan Ragu with Rapini and Basil Gnocchi

i am not a spontaneous person.

90% of the time when i set out to make a dish, i do mental preparation. at the least, i research existing recipes. at the most, i research technique, ingredient pairings, make and remake shopping lists. then spend way too much time at the grocery store buying shit i don’t need. but that’s another story.

70% of the time out of that 90%, the dish never turns out how i imagined.

i inTENDED to do a baked broccoli rabe and italian sausage casserole-like dish. in a basil-y tomato sauce. mmm.. perhaps with some ricotta and melted mozzarella on top. then i realized i don’t have a casserole dish and my le creuset doens’t come in until next week (and a week is so sO long when waiting for a le creuset…). so i decided perhaps i’ll do a cavetelli or ricotta gnocchi and screw the whole low carb business. but sadly enough whole foods HAD no ricotta gnocchi. or cavetelli. OR basil (wtf man.). so i got basil gnocchi. ok. fine. good compromise. but thEN i remembered i don’t even LIKE italian sausage. so i got me some seitan with italian seasoning. (if i’m gonna be eating carbs tonight, might as well cut back somewhere else, right?)

ANYway.

this was the result.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 pack frozen gnocchi *
  • large batch of broccoli rabe/chinese broccoli**
  • 1 pack (8 0z) of italian seasoned seitan.
  • 1 can tomato sauce (pre-seasoned)
  • 2 roma tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup of milk
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tbs sugar
  • thyme, parsley (optional)
  • comte cheese* **
  • salt

*shelf kind is powdery and gross.

**6 inch diameter, or roughly 25 small individual stalks. keep in mind, less flowering = less bitter. so says Mother Chen. i hack off the stems. leaves have more nutrition anyway.

***or whatever cheese floats your boat. but i find parmesan does not melt very well…i like comte because the nutty, slightly sweet flavor offsets the bitterness of broccoli rabe and the acidity of the tomatoes.

INSTRUCTIONS:

  • dice tomatoes and mince garlic
  • if using sausage, remove from casing
  • pan fry sausage in some olive oil, making sure to break up the pieces evenly.
  • add tomatoes, sauce, garlic, stir and simmer until tomatoes disintegrate.
  • wash broccoli. cut off stems and chop leaves so no piece is larger than ~ 3 inch
  • blanch for 1 – 2 min until just wilting. remove into ice bath.
  • check on sauce. add milk and sugar. stir and continue simmering.
  • re-boil the water and cook gnocchi as per package instructions.
  • drain broccoli and stir into sauce.
  • salt to taste. add more milk/chicken stock if sauce is too thick. add any other seasonings you like. (i added thyme and parsley)
  • plate sauce and grate on a generous topping of cheese. i mean like melting all over the place. this is not a garnish, folks.
  • top with gnocchi.
  • serve and EAT.

the gnocchi is kinda grey and ugly, but it tasted nice and basil-y! i think i would’ve been happier with a lighter, fluffier ricotta gnocchi. guess i’ll have to make some from scratch next time. you knoW… i DID find a rather promising recipe… perhaps i’ll start planning take II.

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