When I had it in Hawaii, I ate it whole as part of a salad. I felt the unique minty flavor would be perfect in a pesto sauce. Would my pesto have cheese? Would the traditional parmesan go well with the shiso? Maybe pecorino would work well (pecorino and mint make a delicious pesto when mixed with pistachios). I knew I was in short supply of those cheeses at home and that would mean a trip to the supermarket for cheese. Were there any cheeses I could buy at the farmers' market that would be suitable?
The salad I ate in Hawaii contained goat cheese. Coach Farm just happens to have a booth at the market. Why not try mixing goat cheese into the sauce? I went to the booth and inquired about their firmest cheeses. The vendor suggested a well-aged, raw milk cheese. I took a taste and was surprised it didn't have any of the funky flavors raw milk cheeses tend to have. I thought the shiso, the goat cheese, some shallots (I had onion mignonette in the salad in Hawaii), basil from my garden (to make sure there was some expected flavor in the sauce), and toasted pine nuts would be perfect over gnocchi for dinner. I also included some roasted, heirloom cherry tomatoes.
I would love to have served this to someone without saying what the ingredients were and then watching that person taste it. I was kind to Kevin and gave him a warning.
Gnocchi with Shiso-Goat Cheese Pesto and Roasted Tomatoes
- 1 shallot, finely diced
- 2 Tbl rice wine vinegar
- 20 heirloom cherry tomatoes
- 1/4 +1 Tbl olive oil
- 1 bunch shiso (about two cups of leaves)
- 1/2 cup basil leaves
- 2 Tbl toasted pine nuts
- 4 oz. firm, aged goat cheese
- 1 package of your favorite gnocchi
Place the shallots and vinegar in a small bowl and allow to sit while you prepare the rest of the sauce.
Toss tomatoes with 1 Tbl of olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Roast for about 10 minutes. You want them soft, but try to avoid having them burst.
Combine basil, shiso, remaining olive oil, pine nuts, shallots, and vinegar in a food processor. Process until fairly smooth. Add the cheese and pulse until combined.
Cook gnocchi in salted boiling water until they float to the top of the pot. Combine with the pesto and top with the tomatoes.