In every Italian household you’ll find the tradition of big Sunday dinners with the family.  This past Sunday, we had a very Tuscan inspired theme (as you can see from the table setting below).  As per the movie Under the Tuscan Sun, my mother decorated the table with sunflowers, yellows and other natural tones that provided the look and feel of being right in a Tuscan villa.

On the menu for our Sunday’s family dinner was homemade gnocchi from scratch with not one, not two, but THREE different sauces to choose from.  Of course most of us had a tasting of all 3, but there was something for everyone (even for my picky brother)!  We served the gnocchi in my mom’s classic red sauce, arugula pesto and pea pesto… yes, very different!  The two pesto recipes are from Jones’ Family Tree Farm Harvest Kitchen cooking class, which my mother often attends.  She’s gotten some really great recipes from the Harvest Kitchen… so we’ll have to check it out for ourselves soon!  To learn more, visit:

Along with the gnocchi, we made a whole oven-roasted citrus chicken with a grilled eggplant & zucchini arugula salad.  DELICIOUS!  We were all, but of course, totally stuffed.

Potato Gnocchi


-3 pounds russet potatoes

-2 cups all-purpose flour

-1 extra large egg

-Pinch kosher salt


Place the potatoes in a large pot and just cover with cold water.  BOIL the whole potatoes until they are soft, about 45 minutes.  While still warm, PEEL the potatoes and pass them through a food mill onto a clean pasta board.

MAKE a well in the center of the potatoes and sprinkle with the flour. CRACK the egg into the center of the well, sprinkle with salt, and using a fork, stir the egg into the flour and potatoes.  Bring the dough together, kneading gnetly until a ball is formed, and continue to KNEAD for another 4 minutes, until the dough is dry to the touch.

Cut a tennis ball sized hunk of dough off the main ball and ROLL it into a dowel about 3/4 inch thick.  CUT across the dowel to form pellets about 1 inch long.  Flick each pellet down the tines of a fork to form the traditional shape.  Repeat with remaining dough.

BRING 6 quarts of water to a boil with 2 tbsp salt.

DROP the gnocchi into the boiling water and cook until floating aggressively, 4 to 5 minutes.  Carefully transfer the gnocchi to a pan with pesto, sauce, or warm butter and sage. SERVE immediately.



Arugula Pesto


-2 cups arugula, washed and dried

-1 clove garlic, peeled

-3/4 cup asiago cheese, grated

-1/3 cup pistachio, unsalted

-1 tbsp lemon juice

-2 tsp lemon zest

-1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

-Salt & pepper (to taste)


PULSE in a food precessor until mixed, slowly adding olive oil until it reaches pesto consistency.



Pea Pesto


-1-10 oz. package of frozen peas

-6 tbsp mint

-6 tbsp almonds

-1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated

-6 tbsp olive oil

-3 tbsp lemon juice

-3 tsp lemon zest

-Salt & pepper to taste


PULSE in a food processor until mixed, slowly adding in olive oil until it reaches pesto consistency.



gnocchi with fresh red sauce  gnocchi with arugula and pea pesto

gnocchi with pea pesto



Grilled Eggplant & Zucchini Salad


-1 large batch of arugula salad

-2 medium sized eggplant

-2 medium sized zucchini

-1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

-1/2 cup lemon juice

-Salt & pepper (to taste)

-Crushed red pepper (to taste)


Slice 2 eggplant and 2 zucchini long-ways.

In a very large mixing bowl, lightly cover with extra-virgin olive oil, salt & pepper and crushed red pepper.

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together lemon juice & extra virgin olive oil.  Add a little bit of salt & pepper to taste and finish whisking.  Cover the arugula salad with the dressing and mix thoroughly.