We have made homemade gnocchi twice recently. The first time we were left to our own devices, the whole process took about two hours and the gnocchi that resulted – while gratefully gobbled by hungry feasters – was a little floury and dense. The second time we made it with Guida, our Italian neighbour, professional chef and all round guru. The gnocchi were divine, the best I’ve ever eaten, and the whole process took less than an hour, from peeling of spuds to serving on plates. Guida taught us two essential things about making perfect gnocchi: the first is not to peel the potatoes before cooking them and the second is to make sure the cooked potatoes are totally cooled before going on to make the gnocchi. Obey the golden rules, and you will be singing in the celestial gnocchi choir.
Ingredients for 4 people
potatoes – 600g/21oz
wheat flour – 180g/6.3oz
eggs – 2
Parmesan – 1 spoon
Spinach – 1 large tablespoon of spinach puree
Tomato puree – 1 spoon
Boil the potatoes whole in salted water with their skins on. It’s important to leave the skins on so they don’t absorb too much water. When they have cooled completely, peel the skins off. Pass the potatoes through a potato ricer then mix in all the ingredients. To make the three colours, divide three ways: add the spinach to one third to make green, add tomato to another third to make red and leave the final third as is.
Take a palm sized lump of mixture at a time and roll it into long sausages about 1cm thick. Cut into inch-long pieces to make the gnocchi, adding a little flour to prevent them from sticking. Cook the gnocchi in salted boiling water for a few minutes – the gnocchi should all rise to the surface, drain and cool them in cold water. Drain well and add some olive oil or vegetable oil to prevent them from sticking. You can keep the gnocchi like this in the fridge for up 4 days.
Ingredients for the mushroom sauce
Mixed mushrooms – 300g/10.6oz cleaned and sliced
garlic – 1 clove, finely chopped
onion – half, finely chopped
Extra virgin olive oil
Single cream – 80ml/2.7oz
Orange – for the zest
Olive oil with chillies
Brown the onion and garlic in olive oil over a low heat, add chopped mushrooms and cook them very quickly with salt and pepper. If you wish, add a little (80ml/2.7fl oz) of fresh cooking/single cream and orange zest. Cut the zest into tiny julienne-style pieces and put into boiling water for one minute (to take the bitterness off).
Cook the gnocchi in boiling water for one minute, remove with a strainer and season with the mushroom sauce. Once served, drizzle with Nudo olive oil with Sicilian chillies.