Gnocchi with hazelnut & parsley pesto and fennel
Deeply nutty toasted hazelnuts make a brilliant alternative to pine nuts in pesto. Parsley and hazelnuts can be combined with British cheese and rapeseed oil to make an entirely British pesto to rival the Italian classic.
Serves 4 for the pesto
1 large bunch of parsley, leaves only 60g blanched and toasted hazelnuts 60g hard goats’ cheese, finely grated 150ml cold-pressed extra virgin rapeseed oil Juice of ¼ lemon
for the gnocchi
500g potatoes, peeled and boiled 1 egg, beaten 125g plain flour, plus extra for dusting Olive oil and butter, for frying and drizzling
for the fennel
50g butter 2 large fennel bulbs, each cut into eight wedges
A few toasted hazelnuts Hard goats’ cheese, for grating
1 If you have a food processor, put all the pesto ingredients into it and blitz together. If you’re using a pestle and mortar, crush the nuts first, then finely chop the herbs, add these and the rest of the ingredients, and pound to a paste. Whichever method you use, taste and add salt and pepper as necessary. Add a little more oil if you prefer a looser consistency.
2 To make the gnocchi, push the potatoes through a ricer, or mash them (riced potatoes make lighter, fluffier gnocchi). Roughly mix in the egg with a fork, then sieve over the flour, season with salt and work into a dough, kneading a few times. Dust a work surface with flour and roll out the mixture to 2-3cm thick. Cut into short lengths and mark with a fork.
3 Bring a pan of salted water to the boil and drop in the gnocchi in batches. Lift out with a slotted spoon when they bob to the surface after a minute or so. Drain on kitchen paper.
4 For the fennel, melt the butter in a frying pan and gently fry the fennel until caramelised (at least 10 mins). Turn and caramelise the other side.
5 If you like, you can brown the gnocchi. In another frying pan, melt a knob of butter with a little olive oil and fry the gnocchi until golden. Divide the gnocchi and fennel between four plates and top each with a spoonful or two of pesto, some toasted nuts and a little extra grated goats’ cheese.
The gnocchi’s Italian, but the pesto – made with hazels, parsley, rapeseed oil and goats’ cheese – is definitely British