THIS WEEKEND / make gnocchi
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.
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
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.