Sunday, May 5, 2013

Tropical Margaritas (& Cilantro Pesto Gnocchi with Chorizo)

Day 30

Happy Cinco de Mayo! 

In honor of May 5th, I thought I’d prepare Tropical Margaritas and pesto sauced gnocchi with a Mexican twist. 

I love margaritas, so I wanted to make an interesting margarita with the very best ingredients.  My
Copyright, Doug Kapustin, 2013

afternoon began at our favorite local spirits shop, North Ridge Wine & Spirits, where co-owner Brad Boarman gave my husband a crash course on the best alcohol choices for margaritas. Moments later, we left the store with the two most important parts of a good margarita: Grand Marnier Triple Sec and Patron White Tequila. If you happen to live in or near Howard County, Maryland, please visit North Ridge Wine & Spirits for all of your party and personal purchases. They always take the time to address each customer’s needs and to explain the best options for each customer’s situation. Visit their website at

After leaving Northridge, I stopped by the market for fresh lemons, limes, and pineapple juice. Less than an hour later, my husband was breaking ice and salting the rims of our glasses as I mixed the margarita ingredients. It was the best way to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, for sure! And, believe it or not, the afternoon kept getting better with the gnocchi dish that followed our cocktails on the deck.
Copyright, Doug Kapustin, 2013

Here’s our recipe for 

Tropical Margaritas:
Juice of 5 large lemons
Juice of 6 limes
Juice of 2 large oranges
1 pint pineapple juice
1 cup Triple Sec
1 cup White Tequila
4 cups chopped ice
1 lime, wedged
Kosher salt

Rub rims of glasses with lime and dip glass rims in salt to coat. Ice glasses. In large pitcher, mix all liquid ingredients and stir. Ice margarita mix in pitcher. Serve immediately. 

Gnocchi with Cilantro Pesto & Grilled Chorizo Sausage

Because I love gnocchi and had planned it for our weekend dinner, I decided to make it with a Cinco de Mayo twist to accompany the margaritas. Remaining faithful to my love of cilantro, I wondered how it might work to make a cilantro-basil pesto rather than a simple basil base. The result of my experiment was very pleasing, and I might choose to make this a permanent change in my future pesto dishes. 

If you’re like me, you love the creamy texture of gnocchi. The fact that it is made from potatoes rather than a simple flour base makes it much richer and more comforting than pasta. The combination of pesto sauce and gnocchi really is outstanding. To add even more flavor, we grilled Mexican Chorizo sausage to accompany the gnocchi as well. I hope you’ll try this dish, no matter the holiday or dinner occasion; it’s classic comfort food, to be sure. 

Buen provecho!

Gnocchi with Cilantro Pesto & Grilled Chorizo Sausage

8 chorizo sausages, grilled
3 lbs. gnocchi, cooked 2-3 minutes or until al dente
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese for garnish
½ cup pine nuts
15 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
3 cups fresh cilantro leaves, packed
1 ½ cups extra virgin olive oil
1 ½ tsp. kosher salt
2 tsp. ground black pepper
½ small jalapeno, seeded and chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
1 ½ cups fresh grated Parmesan cheese 

In a food processor, blend garlic and pine nuts until finely chopped. Add basil, cilantro, salt, jalapeno, and pepper. Chop. Slowly add olive oil and lemon juice through the feed tube while food processor is running. Add 1 ½ cups Parmesan and blend again. Taste to check seasoning. Add more salt if needed. 

Gently toss pesto with hot gnocchi. Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan. Serve each plate with 1-2 chorizo links. 

Serves 4-6 people. 

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