THIS WEEK­END / make gnoc­chi

Cuisine - - THE MAKER -

GNOC­CHI IS THOUGHT

to be no­to­ri­ously dif­fi­cult to make, but as long as you take a lit­tle care along the way, it’s a cinch. The potato va­ri­ety should be floury – I like Agria here. The egg yolk is not strictly nec­es­sary, but it does help make the mix­ture more sta­ble to work with. I usu­ally start off with the min­i­mum amount of flour then add more as nec­es­sary. You can add other flavours – pureed roasted beet­root or wilted and pureed spinach are fine ad­di­tions, as are herbs such as chives or spices such as saf­fron.

SERVES 4-6

1kg medium Agria pota­toes, scrubbed 1 tea­spoon sea salt 1 egg yolk 100g-200g flour Pre­heat the oven to 220°C. Bake the pota­toes for 1 hour or un­til cooked through. When cool enough to han­dle, cut in half length­wise and scoop out the flesh – you should have just over 600g – and put through a ricer or mash into a bowl. While the potato is still warm, add the salt and egg yolk and mix well. Add 100g flour and in­cor­po­rate well.

Bring a saucepan of wa­ter to the boil and add salt. Cut off a small piece of the dough (it will be very soft at this stage), put some of the re­main­ing flour on a clean bench and roll the dough out into a long sausage shape about 1½cm-2cm thick. Cut into small lengths about 2.5cm, run each piece down the back of fork tines and flick off (this isn’t com­pletely nec­es­sary, but the in­dents give the sauce some­thing to sit in). Put onto a bak­ing pa­per-lined bak­ing tray.

Put a few of the gnoc­chi into the sim­mer­ing (not boil­ing) wa­ter. They will sink to the bot­tom and rise to the top. If they break up, the rest of the batch will need more flour. Re-roll and test again. They are cooked when they rise and float on the top – give them an­other 30 sec­onds and re­move with a slot­ted spoon. When you are sat­is­fied that your gnoc­chi have enough flour, pre­pare the re­main­ing gnoc­chi.

You can freeze the un­cooked gnoc­chi at this point and cook from frozen at a later date – sim­ply freeze on the lined bak­ing tray and when frozen, put into a seal­able bag. They will take an ex­tra minute or two to cook, but be­ware – I find they don’t seem as sta­ble when frozen. In­stead of freez­ing, I tend to pre­fer to cook the gnoc­chi, plunge into icy-cold wa­ter, drain and toss with olive oil. Re­frig­er­ate un­til needed (ide­ally no more than 1-2 days), then re­heat for a minute or so in sim­mer­ing wa­ter be­fore toss­ing with a sauce.

GNOC­CHI WITH PESTO & SPRING VEG­ETA­BLES SERVES 4-6

2 ta­ble­spoons olive oil 2 cloves gar­lic, thinly sliced 3 spring onions, cut into 5cm pieces 1 bunch baby car­rots, scrubbed 250ml veg­etable stock or wa­ter grated zest and juice of 1 lemon 1 bunch as­para­gus, thinly sliced

on the di­ag­o­nal 1 cup peas 100g sugar snap peas 2 cups broad beans, shelled 2 ta­ble­spoons pesto 1 batch gnoc­chi, cooked freshly grated parme­san to serve

(DF) (V)

Heat the oil in a wide saucepan. Add the gar­lic and spring onions and cook gen­tly for a minute. Add the car­rots, stock and lemon juice. Cook for 5 min­utes, then add the as­para­gus, peas, sugar snap peas and broad beans and cook for an­other minute un­til ten­der. Add the pesto and lemon zest and stir quickly. Add the cooked gnoc­chi, toss well and ad­just­ing the sea­son­ing. Serve with parme­san.

Gnoc­chi with blue cheese, wal­nuts & spinach

Wilt spinach in saucepan un­til soft then set aside. In the same pan, fry gar­lic in but­ter, add some chopped rose­mary, crum­ble through some blue cheese and a small amount of cream. Re­turn the spinach to the pan, add cooked gnoc­chi and scat­ter with wal­nuts to serve.

Baked gnoc­chi with to­mato and mozzarella

Make a quick to­mato sauce with gar­lic, tinned toma­toes, bal­samic vine­gar and basil leaves. Cook the gnoc­chi briefly, put into a bak­ing dish with the to­mato sauce, scat­ter over torn mozzarella and driz­zle with a lit­tle cream. Bake un­til bub­bling.

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