1 cup (250 mL) water
1/2 cup (125 mL) butter
1 cup (250 mL) all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon (15 mL) fine herbs (parsley, tarragon, chervil and chives)
2 tablespoons (30 mL) grated parmesan cheese
1 pound (500 g) Italian sausage
1 onion, finely diced
1 carrot, finely diced
3 celery ribs, finely diced
1 tablespoon (15 mL) chopped garlic
1 cup (250 mL) red wine (Italian preferred)
2 tablespoons (30 mL) chopped fresh mint (or 2 teaspoons/10 mL dried)
2 tablespoons (30 mL) chopped fresh basil (or 2 teaspoons/10 mL dried)
6-8 threads of saffron
1 (14-ounce/398 mL) can diced tomato (or your preferred tomato sauce)
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon (15 mL) olive oil
1 tablespoon (15 mL) butter
Garnishes: Fresh herbs, shaved parmesan
In a medium-size saucepan over medium-high heat, bring water, butter and salt to a boil. Turn off heat and add flour all at once. Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until well combined and pulling off sides of pot. Add eggs one at a time, stirring after each addition, until mixture is smooth and dough-like. Stir in herbs and parmesan.
In a separate pot, bring 2 quarts (2 L) water to a low boil. Place mixture, called choux pastry, into a piping bag with a straight tip. Hold bag over water and gently squeeze out pastry in 1-inch (2.5 cm) sections, using a paring knife to slice into the water. Only do about 25 at a time. When the gnocchi floats, remove with a slotted spoon or strainer and place on paper towel. Once all the gnocchi has been cooked, place on a parchment-lined tray in refrigerator, being careful to keep them separated.
In a skillet, sauté sausage, onion, carrot and celery, and garlic until browned. Add red wine to de-glaze pan. If using dry herbs, add now. Allow to simmer for a few minutes until wine is reduced by half. Add saffron and tomato; simmer about 10 minutes, until sauce is fairly thick. If using fresh herbs, add now. Add salt and pepper to taste.
In a non-stick skillet on medium-high heat, heat oil and butter until sizzling. Add gnocchi in one layer. Sauté until golden brown with crispy outer shell. Spoon into a serving dish or individual bowls and ladle sauce over top. Garnish with fresh herbs and shaved parmesan. Makes 8 appetizer servings.