Never made gnocchi before? Seems a bit daunting? It doesnt have to be. I’ve seen loads and loads of recipes online for homemade gnocchi all having specific weights on the potatos and flours, different types and variations yada yada yada. It basically comes down to the ratio between flour and potato and will depend on the moisture levels of your mash. It’s really just trial and error. I like to make mash, use what I need for the gnocchi, and use the left-overs for a potato cake with crispy bacon and a poached egg on top for breakfast the next day. Or for a fish cake, bubble and squeak… the list goes on and on. Don’t worry about making too much mashed potato, experiment with different types of potato and methods of cooking and find what works for you.
I use a ratio of one cup of mashed poatato to one quater cup of flour, plus a touch for dusting and one egg yolk. Use too much flour and it will be dense and heavy, use too little and it will fall apart when you cook it. The easiest way to test this is to tear a bit off after you have mixed it together and simply cook a piece to see how it holds up and tastes. If it falls apart while blanching then add more flour, if it is too dense, well…unlucky. Just grab some more mash and try again. (That’s your breakfast potato cake gone, cereral it is.)
- 1 cup of mashed potato
- 1/4 cup plain flour
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 1/2 cups tomato passata
- 1 medium shallot
- 1-2 cloves of garlic (I’m still using smoked garlic)
- a few leaves of basil
- 1-2 chillis
- zest of a lemon/or a splash of white wine
- juice of half a lemon
- parmesan to garnish
- olive oil
- Small handful of toasted pine nuts
First things first, we want to make the gnocchi. This means amazing mashed potatoes. Pre-heat your oven nice and hot about 180 degrees celius. The best way to get your mash for the gnocchi is to bascially steam the potatoes in their skins. Bake them in a hot oven, and once they are cooked and tender carefully peel them using a dish cloth or something to protect your hands as they will be hot. Grate them into a bowl and let cool, the less work and contact with the mash the better. Another way this can be done is by simply boiling them in the skins and then again peeling and gently mashing, being careful not to over work. You can also just make it the way you normally would, or even better, use last nights mash. The less moisture in the mash the better, dont worry about adding butter or cream. The amount of flour added will depend on how moist your mash is. So baking them would require less flour than say boiling them or using the potatoes from a previous night. You want just enough flour to bind the dough, so that you have a light fluffy dumpling. Again, this is purely trial and error so find what works for you.
Once you have your mash cooled and seasoned with a touch of salt, take one cup of it and put on a floured work top. Make a well in the centre, add your egg yolk and 1/4 cup of flour to the well. Now, work and bring together to make a rough dough. This does not have to be perfectly smooth and you don’t want to overwork it so be sure to leave it rough.
Once you have your dough, divide into about three balls. Roll out each ball into a thin long sausage shape. Make sure to add a touch of flour every now and then so that nothing sticks. Once you have your long gnocchi sausages done simply cut little dumplings along the dough, roughly an inch or so in size. If you want that professional look to your gnocchi simply roll each dumpling over the back of a fork to create the effect. As you finish the gnocchi put them on to a floured plate so that they don’t stick.
That done, you are onto the easy and quick sauce with strong fresh flavours. Dice up the shallot and chillies (doesn’t have to be tidy) and if you have a garlic press just mince the garlic through that. Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to a simmer to cook the gnocchi. Toast the pine nuts in a dry hot pan with no oil until they brown and set them aside for later. Next throw the onion, chillis and garlic into the pan you just used for your pine nuts with a touch of olive oil and cook until it starts to color. Pour in the passata, mix everything up, and adjust the seasoning as you see fit.
Put your gnocchi into the boiling water. When the gnocchi rises to the top of the water it is done. After a few minutes of the sauce simmering you are done. Squeeze in the lemon juice, or a touch of white wine to finish it off. Drain and throw the gnocchi into the sauce and toss together to aerate the dish. Spoon out into your serving bowls, tear the basil and scatter on top of the gnocchi, zest your lemon and grate some parmesan on top. Drizzle some olive oil over and tuck in.