Gnocchi, pronounced nyoh-kee, are delicate Italian dumplings. They take on the flavour of any sauce you serve them with. Angela Day prepares three different types of gnocchi with sauces to match.
SPINACH RICOTTA GNOCCHI
200g fresh baby spinach, blanched and drained
400g ricotta cheese, drained of excess moisture
125ml finely grated Parmesan cheese
pinch of nutmeg
Squeeze as much moisture as you can out of the spinach.
Add the spinach, egg, salt, and ricotta to a food processor. Pulse until completely blended.
Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and mix in the Parmesan cheese and the nutmeg. Add in the flour, starting with just half, mixing everything with your hands until the mixture holds together, adding more flour if necessary.
Put a teaspoonful of the mixture on your palm and roll into a small sausage. Rest it on a lightly floured board. Repeat with remaining mixture.
Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and cook the gnocchi in batches.
Serve with a Neapolitan sauce and lashings of fresh Parmesan.
20ml olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 small carrot, finely chopped
1 small stalk of celery, including the green tops, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
5ml tomato paste
400g can of tomatoes
10ml chopped fresh basil
30ml chopped fresh parsley
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Heat the olive oil in a saucepan on medium heat. Add the onion, carrot and celery. Fry for a minute, then reduce the heat to low, cover the pan and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are softened and cooked through.
Turn up the heat and add garlic, tomato paste and tomatoes and cook a further 10 minutes. Add the basil and parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Blend with a hand blender to give it a smooth consistency.
1kg floury potatoes
45ml olive oil
salt and pepper
2 egg yolks, beaten
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Peel and cube the potatoes. Place on a baking tray, drizzle with olive oil and season well with salt and pepper. Bake until tender, about 30 -40 minutes.
Add the cooked potatoes to a food processor and process until smooth. Remove, add the flour, egg and a pinch of salt and mix by hand until you have a nice pliable ball of dough. Wrap the mixture and put it in the fridge for an hour.
Flour your hands lightly and divide the potato dough into six portions. Roll out one portion at a time on a lightly floured, clean surface.
Now form a rope about the size of an index finger. Using both hands, and a light, gentle touch, roll the dough out with a back and forth motion, starting at the centre and moving towards the ends. Cut the rope into 2-3cm portions.
Then you have to form indentations in the gnocchi so that it cooks evenly and holds the sauce better.
Hold a fork at a 45° angle with its tines facing down on the work board, the curved part of the fork facing away from you. Starting with the curved outside bottom of the fork, press each piece of dough up along the length of the tines. Let the gnocchi fall back down.
This is a pretty quick motion, the result is an indentation of the fork tines on one side of the gnocchi, and an indentation of your fingertip on the other side.
Place the gnocchi on a lightly floured board.
Use the rest of the dough.
Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and cook in batches. Serve with walnut pesto and blue cheese.
WALNUT PESTO AND BLUE CHEESE SAUCE
1 small clove of garlic
30g fresh basil leaves, picked
30g Parmesan cheese, grated
20-30ml olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
80g blue cheese, crumbled
Combine the garlic, basil, walnuts, Parmesan and olive oil in a food processor, blend until smooth.
Season to taste.
Toss the pesto in the hot gnocchi and then top with the crumbled blue cheese.
850g butternut, peeled and diced
15ml olive oil
3 sprigs of thyme
salt and pepper
1 egg yolk
Scatter the butternut cubes on a baking tray lined with tin foil. Drizzle over the olive oil and thyme and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 30 minutes until tender.
In a food processor, combine the butternut, flour and egg yolk. Process until it has a dropping consistency.
Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and drop in a few small spoonfuls of the butternut mixture. Cook for a minute. Once the gnocchi have risen to the surface, remove with a slotted spoon and drain.
Repeat with the remaining gnocchi mixture, cooking in batches until all are cooked.
15ml olive oil
250g mixed mushrooms
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 sprig of thyme.
Heat the oil and butter together in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, garlic and thyme and fry for about 5 minutes until the mushrooms are done.
Combine with the gnocchi and serve warm. - The Star