I Can’t Believe It’s Not Gnocchi

Today was Mariquita Farms Mystery Box day, and today’s selection included a bag of Yukon Gold potatoes and basil and little bitty cucumbers and Pimiento de Padron peppers, among other things.  A friend was coming over for dinner, so I decided to put a little something together.  But what?

I wanted to use that basil ASAP.  I don’t buy basil, since it usually comes in huge quantities that languish in my crisper long after I use what I need, and this bunch was too good to go to waste.  And the potatoes — am I really in the mood for potatoes?  Somehow my brains came up with the terrific idea of a cold potato salad with basil pesto called I Can’t Believe It’s Not Gnocchi.  Because, like, you know, gnocchi are made with potatoes?  And this is just like gnocchi, only way simpler and, um, not like gnocchi at all?  Well, it’s still really good.  I bet Fabio would endorse it.

ICBING was served as part of a composed salad plate which included sliced cucumbers, plain yogurt, pickled onions (who knew they were so easy to make?!?  I do, now, and am excited since they are one of my favorite pickled things), sliced silken tofu with sesame seeds, and a handful of those Pimiento peppers pan-roasted and dipped in salt.  This was all very light and satisfying, and could only have been improved by the addition of crackers, I think.  Along with this plate we enjoyed sparkling water, cold sake, and the spangled sounds of Omar Souleyman.  Thursday nights should always be so DELICIOUS.

1 large bunch basil (Genovese or Sweet)
2 lbs. potatoes
2 Tbsp. olive oil
4 cloves garlic, in their husks
2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
Pine nuts, toasted, if you want ’em
More olive oil

Remove basil leaves from stalks and rinse the former in a colander. Peel the potatoes and cube.

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a sturdy frying pan. Add potatoes and salt and cloves of garlic and stir until coated with oil. Fry until there is some browning, scraping the bottom of the pan with a pancake turner so the starchy deposits don’t burn. Turn heat down to low and cover, stirring and cooking until tender but not falling apart. When this has been accomplished, immediately turn off the heat and deposit the potatoes in a bowl to cool.

Cull the garlic from the potatoes and remove the husks. Put the basil leaves and garlic and optional nuts into a food processor dosed with some good olive oil and chop ’til the leaves are as fine as possible. Take the mixture out, add the cheese, and chop chop chop until the mix is fine and/or you are tired of chopping. Let it be supple and firm, not runny with oil. Toss the pesto with the potatoes and refrigerate until cool.

Serves 4

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