Homemade gnocchi

Homemade gnocchi

image (20)-1.jpeg

This gnocchi recipe has been a classic six months or more in the making. It feels like all I've been doing since Christmas is talking about making gnocchi. I spent most of Easter Sunday exchanging potato ricer tips, do I need a drum sieve? What even is a drum sieve? And on and on.

I decided I couldn't afford any of these apparently necessary gadgets until my next pay cheque, which kept on mysteriously getting spent on totally necessary things like the extra nice tin of coffee, the Hackney Wild bread, that taxi home... you know the score. It looked like gnocchi wasn't going to happen until Christmas Day.

That was until I came across Isa Chandra Moskowitz's recipe in Vegan with a Vengeance, in which she straight-up says that actually you don't need a crazy number of accouterments to start making gnocchi. What's more, her ingredients list was a nice four items long.

After making this recipe I would say maybe you might want the potato ricer, and definitely set aside half a day to make these- they require a fair bit of patience with waiting for potatoes to cool etc. But as a first attempt at gnocchi, this was fun, easy and super cheap.

image (15).jpeg

Homemade pasta can be tricky to deal with at first so if you need any help I would check out Gennaro Contaldo's youtube clips, or Michela Chiappa's Simply Italian series on Channel Four- they both give loads of tips and making pasta is something you improve with so much each time through trial and error. I think as long as the end result is edible, it's always worth the effort!

This recipe is adapted from Isa Chandra Moskowitz's recipe, although as I mentioned above, I think using a potato ricer and perhaps doing them from boiled and not baked would speed up the process. If you don't have a potato ricer, follow this recipe and bake them, as it gets a good dry mash from the potatoes.

Makes enough for six hungry people (why wouldn't you be, there's gnocchi cooking!)

Ingredients

900g potatoes, washed and scrubbed

2 tbsp olive oil

1/2 teaspoon of salt

175g-200g plain flour (I would try and use '00' flour if you can get your hands on it) 

Semolina or rice flour for keeping the pasta in shape  

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius. With a knife, pierce each potato four or five times and bake them in the oven for an hour.  

They should be totally cooked through when ready, so test with a fork or a skewer. Then remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack completely- this takes a lot of patience but might be half an hour or so.

 

image (16).jpeg

Peel off the skins and place the cooled potatoes in a large mixing bowl. Add the oil and salt and mash- they don't need blending or pureering, as this will release more moisture which you don't want in the pasta dough. So just mash until there are very few lumps, and begin to add half of the flour a little at a time until it is all incorporated. Now turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and start to add the other half, until the dough is smooth and unsticky- you may not need all the flour so just keep it on hand for rolling.

image (17).jpeg

Cut the dough into thirds and roll each portion into a rope shape about 1cm thick. Then cut the ropes into about 2cm pieces- I just used my thumb to measure but yours might be bigger! If you want to go in for the gnocchi with grooves, roll each little gnocchi across the base of a fork with your thumb, so half has grooves and half is folded in on itself from your thumb. I love making it this way as you get bits of sauce and olive oil in the pockets of pasta, but if you want to keep it simple, just roll each gnocchi into a ball. 

image (18).jpeg

Put the prepared gnocchi in a tray or shallow dish with a sprinkling of semolina or rice flour- this keeps the pasta from sticking or drying out, but falls off when boiled so you don't need to worry about it changing the flavour or texture of the gnocchi. 

Boil a large pan of well-salted water and pop in the gnocchi- I do this in batches so as not to crowd the pan, and once they float to the top, leave for another 30 seconds before spooning out onto a plate. If you're adding sauce, I like to cook them once more in that, or you can eat them plain just with olive oil or pesto. 

image (23).jpeg

Roasted pepper and tomato sauce

Roasted pepper and tomato sauce

image (34).jpeg

This is a really simple way of making an amazing pasta sauce. The flavours you will get from roasting the vegetables for just 20 minutes are totally worth it- the sauce this makes tastes like it's been cooking for hours. 

I cooked this with gnocchi, but I've also saved half before and added to a vegan bolognese, a rich minestrone soup, lasagne- you get the picture- crazy versatile. The transformation of the onions and the garlic are my favourite part- they go sticky and sweet instead of harsh, giving the sauce a smooth depth I can never fully get from just sauteing. 

Makes enough for four servings

Ingredients

2 garlic cloves, left whole

1 onion, chopped in half with the outer tougher skin removed  

1 heirloom or large tomato, chopped in half

2 or 3 peppers or various colours (at least one red or this will be too bitter for the sauce) 

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

1 carton chopped tomatoes

image (35).jpeg

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius. In a small, oven-proof tray or dish, add in all the vegetables with a generous amount of olive oil, salt and pepper. It's better as a small tray so all the vegetables stay juicy and mix a little together, or they can dry out if they are too far apart in the oven. 

Roast for around 20 minutes or until everything is just before charring. Remove from the oven and take the stalks out of the peppers and any tops off the tomatoes that have been left on. 

In a saucepan, heat the carton of chopped tomatoes, then add the vegetables. Squeeze in the garlic and disregard its tough skin and season to taste. When you're happy with the flavour, blend with a hand blender or mixer to a smooth sauce. Heat when required, or refrigerate until needed.