Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Homemade Gnocchi and Pesto Sauce Recipe

Homemade Gnocchi

I invited my friends round for gnocchi, which I decided to make from scratch. I had no idea how to make them and just thought it would be a fun experiment. I started looking at recipes and had soon looked at so many, I was completely confused as to whether I should boil the potatoes before mashing, or bake them. Boiling, it seemed, meant adding more flour to lessen the effect of the water, while baking involved using an egg to moisten the dry-baked potato. The one thing I was sure about was the need to use a floury potato. There would be four of us for lunch, and I was starting to panic when I realised the time. Luckily my eccentric Italian friend arrived early and came up with the idea of calling his Italian mamma, who of course saved the day with her recipe passed down from generation to generation. It's always such a relief, when you receive a recipe by word of mouth. By this point I was behind schedule and my guests had arrived, so I handed them each a glass of wine and roped them into assisting with the final touches. We created a nice little conveyor belt, with the final person rolling each potato dough on a fork to make indentations for the sauce to stick to; this job became quite tedious in the end! However, the dish was a great success and everyone seemed to enjoy it even more, having helped put it all together.
Alessio Attempting the Mashing Technique

Vanessa and Amy Working for their Lunch

Little Fists of Homemade Gnocchi

Tired of Work and Ready to Eat

Serves 4 as a main, 8 as a starter

2 large floury potatoes (Maris piper or king Edward)
100 g (approx) plain flour or Italian 00' flour, if possible
A few grates of nutmeg
Salt and pepper
Boil the potatoes whole, skin on, in salty water until cooked the whole way through - test with a skewer. Drain and leave to cool for a moment. When they are still hot but just cool enough to handle, quickly peel off the skin and put them through a mouli or ricer, or mash them to a pulp (try to have a smooth substance).
Place the potato mash on a clean surface and flatten to about 2-in/5 cm thickness. Sprinkle over the nutmeg, salt and pepper, and some flour. Gently knead the dough. Repeat the process of flattening the dough, adding more flour each time and kneading it, until you have a dough-like consistency, similar to bread making but much lighter. 
To test whether the dough is ready, drop a small lump into a pan of boiling water and wait until it rises to the surface - this means it’s cooked. Taste it and check the consistency. It should be soft with a slight bite to it. Be careful you do not add too much flour, as the texture could become too rubbery. Add more salt to the dough if necessary.  

Now shape the rest of your gnocchi.
On a well-floured board roll the dough into a sausage shape. Use a knife to cut the sausage shape into small dumplings. Using the palm of your hand, shape the dumplings into balls and very gently roll them over the upside down side of a fork to give them slight indentations that will later catch the sauce.

Drop them into boiling salted water and cook for 2 minutes; start timing once they have bobbed to the surface.

Serve with Homemade pesto.

My Homemade Pesto Recipe

Homemade Pesto
Handful pine nuts
Large bunch of basil, roughly chopped
Handful rocket, roughly chopped
Chunk of Parmesan (or equivalent), broken up
1-2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
A few glugs of olive oil
Sea salt and black pepper

Gently dry pan-fry the pine nuts until golden. Add all the ingredients to a blender and process until smooth. Season to taste and add more olive oil if necessary. 

Pour the amount of homemade pesto you would like to use into to a large pan or wok and add a little water from the gnocchi to liquidise and assist with gently warming through the homemade pesto sauce. Toss the cooked gnocchi in the sauce before serving. 

Gnocchi Tossed in Homemade Pesto

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