Baked Pastas are a big American favorite. We love them. We make them with all sorts of ingredients, cheeses and sauces. We put all sorts of noodles in them from Macaroni to Penne to Flat Egg Noodles. But whatever we put into them they remain a favorite in the American culinary landscape. Maybe partially because they are so easy. Boil some pasta, throw in some yummy fixings, bake and viola! Instant mealtime.
So for the second dish on my menu for the Christmas dinner I am going to make for my Mother's friends, I am including a baked pasta course. One of the reasons is I know that one of the couples coming is Italian and from New Jersey. So in homage to them I want to do something I think will please that Jersey Palate. However, I am also feeding people from Chicago. So I want to do something that has a little Midwestern Dairy flair. Mix pasta and some cheese and you have got a party in your mouth I always say.
The inspiration for this dish actually comes from my workplace. At work the chef prepares a fig raviolletti, with a goat cheese sauce, and crunchy walnuts. He also does a gnocchi dish with carmelized onions, sort of a play on Pierogies. I love both these dishes (of course) and wanted to use them as the springboard for a baked pasta recipe. So I decided for my baked pasta I would use all those elements and add in another rich flavor rosemary. I hope you can pick up what I am about to lay down for ya sister, cause rich tasty and delish are on the way!!!
For this recipe you will need
One package of store bought Gnocchi 1 lb. ( you can make your own but I think the store bought are fine, and lets face it who wants to spend all that time making pasta)
Prepare as per the directions on the package and hold in reserve
Next: 2 med white onions very thinly sliced in circles, saute in butter over med heat until brown and carmelized. Reserve as well
Next: 2 cups Heavy cream in a sauce pot, place in it 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary bring to a boil and reduce heat. Simmer slowly for about 8 mins. till cream has reduced by 1/4, remove rosemary. Add in 1 whole log (8oz) crumbled of goat cheese and 1/3/ cup shredded fontina cheese and slowly melt till combined.
Next: Take 8 oz of dried figs and cut them cross wise into little discs.
Next: 6 oz of crushed walnuts or walnut pieces. Place in a small pan and saute over med heat till the oils begin to toast them. Make sure you toss them frequently as not to let them burn.
Preheat oven to 350 Degrees F.
Take 6 to 8 baking dishes depending on the size and grease them with butter
In a large bowl add Gnocchi, cream sauce, figs, nuts, and 1/2 of the onions. Stir VERY gently to combine. You don't want to crush the gnocchi.
Spoon into the baking dishes and garnish the top with the rest of the carmelized onions.
Take 1 package of Boursin Cheese and break into crumbles, top each dish with the boursin crumbles making sure that each has a nice amount. Next top each dish with some toasted bread crumbs.
Place the baking dishes on a baking tray and place in the hot oven for 20 to 30 mins until everything is bubbly and the tops are starting to brown.
Remove from the oven let rest for 5 mins, then serve while still hot hot hot!!