1. What to cook? Gnocchi.
2. How to sauce? Bechamel.
3. How to season? Zaatar.
Gnocchi with Levantine-ish Bechamel Sauce
This dish just sort of happened, and you can make it happen too. The first thing you need is a batch of gnocchi, which you can find a recipe for here (just omit the lemon curd). There are some further useful instructions and photos here.
Next you’ll need to make a basic bechamel sauce. I had, for some reason or another, never actually made one before, and decided that this was the time to try. Google led me to this very helpful Food Network recipe, which I halved and followed – until the part where they said to add nutmeg. Not that I have anything against nutmeg, but the kitchengeist (that would be the spirit of the kitchen) told me to add zaatar instead, and so I did.
The last thing I did was to use a fork to make small ridges in the gnocchi – the better to for sauce to cling to them, you see. You can buy a fancy wooden ridged paddle thing from Italy (or Williams Sonoma) to do this; or you can just use a fork.
We have been utterly unable to find anything in Jordan for measuring dry ingredients so I just guessed a bit at proportions, and to everyone’s delight I think I ended up with a little more cheese and a little less flour than usual in my gnocchi (for the record, I also added about a quarter cup of mozzarella to the bechamel for good measure). The extra cheese paid dividends: the gnocchi turned out extra soft and pillow-y and I’ll probably replicate these new proportions in future recipes, too…