Oh oh oh this has to be my all-time favourite! it is so good I am surprised it is even legal: fluffy little pillows of scrumptiousness sizzled in butter and bathed in a rich tomato sauce, enlivened by small creamy cubes of buffalo mozzarella and fresh herbs…It is hard not to dribble over my keyboard while I am writing this!
Gnocchi are rather fiddly to make, but if you make a big batch then they freeze perfectly, Do NOT be tempted to buy ready-made gnocchi; they are a true culinary horror! They have no taste except for that of the chemicals used to preserve them, they are so rubbery that chewing the will make your jaw ache, and they will leave you feeling like you have eaten a breeze-block in tomato sauce.
But preparing fresh gnocchi will improve your life and make you a better person.
For the Gnocchi
500g mashed floury potato
110g plain flour
200g cooked spinach, squeezed dry
Salt, pepper and nutmeg for seasoning
2tbsp olive oil
1. Boil the potatoes until soft, drain and warm gently to evaporate as much moisture as possible. Mash, or pass through a ricer and allow to cool.
2. Wilt the spinach, refresh in cold water, squeeze out as much water as possible (I like to retain this to use in stock, or to boil down and add to spinach as a vegetable), and chop really finely.
3. Mix the potato, flour, spinach and egg, and season with a salt, pepper and a grate of nutmeg. You can add more flour if the dough is too wet, but avoid the temptation to add too much as this will make the gnocchi stodgy. The ideal dough is actually quite difficult to work with.
4. To make the gnocchi, break off a lump of dough, and roll out till you have a long sausage about 75mm thick. Chop the roll into 3cm pieces and flatten each piece with a fork to create indentations.
5. To cook the gnocchi, drop them into a large pan of boiling salted water. They are cooked when they float to the surface, which will probably only take about 20 seconds. Scoop them out with a slotted spoon and dry on kitchen paper. (it is at this stage you can freeze any surplus.)
6. Melt the butter in a large frying pan and add the olive oil, Fry the gnocchi in batches until crisp and golden.
1 garlic clove
5tbsp olive oil
500g tinned tomatoes, or fresh ripe tomatoes, chopped coarsely
1 small handful fresh basil
1. Chop the garlic finely, and fry gently in the olive oil until soft. Do not allow to brown, or it will be bitter.
2. Add the tomatoes (if using fresh I think it is unnecessary to peel and de-seed) and basil, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes.
3. Adjust the seasoning.
50g Parmesan, freshly grated
150g buffalo mozzarella cut into 1 cm cubes
1 bunch of chopped fresh herbs such as basil, parsley, oregano, lemon verbena
1. Divide the gnocchi between 4 pasta bowls, and sprinkle with Parmesan.
2. Ladle over the sauce.
3. Add the mozzarella.
4. Sprinkle with herbs.
OH OH OOOH