Seriously, one of my favourite dishes, little effort required – maximum delight gained. To make this extra quick, use good quality shop bought gnocchi (but you will get a far better result making your own).
When my mum came to stay recently I made a list of places to go and recipes I wanted to make whilst she was here to ensure we made the very most out of her visit. This was top of my list and we ended up making it after few hours at the local pub and a run home in the rain. We drank 2 bottles of red, my favourite and Bens favourite. It was a deliciously boozy night sharing the wine and food with mum.
There are few ingredients, so quality is important – good market purchases. Feel free to add flavours to the gnocchi dough or meat such as bacon or chorizo but I like this particular combination simple. If you have a potato ricer, great. I have used a fork, which took ages but still worked and a masher also does the trick-as long as the potatoes are very soft.
- 500g (about 2 big floury potatoes) Sebago or King Edward are both good
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 250g plain flour – plus extra for dusting
Boil potatoes with skins on in a large pan of boiling water. They usually take about 45 minutes, just ensure they are soft before draining. Leave to cool whilst you weigh and sieve your flour in a bowl, adding a very generous pinch of salt and pepper. It always looks as though I’m adding too much salt, but you need about 4 tsp in my opinion.
Lightly beat the egg in a small bowl or cup.
Now hopefully the potatoes are cool enough to handle. Peel them and mash in a large bowl until very smooth.
Add the flour and egg and combine with your hands until you form a smooth dough. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for a few minutes. Cut into 4 equal pieces and roll each piece into a long sausage, about 2 cm thick. The dough should be very smooth and easy to work manipulate.
Cut the gnocchi into pieces about 2.5 cm long and leave in lightly floured trays. If you like, here you can roll each gnocchi on a fork to get the ridges that work well to trap flighty sauce. Keep in the fridge before cooking or even freeze in layers separated by baking paper. It is very good to freeze and tastes the same, just needs a few minutes extra cooking!
Now for the sauce…..also serves 4
- 1 quantity of gnocchi (as above) or 2 x 450g packs ready-made
- 100g unsalted butter
- 100g sundried tomatoes, chopped
- 200g pitted, halved olives (either mixed or I like Sicilian and/or Kalamata)
- 1 bunch of basil leaves, roughly torn
- 200g fresh mozzarella ball, drained and roughly torn apart
Bring a large, salted pan of water to the boil and add gnocchi. It will rise to the top when cooked, usually taking about 3 minutes or frozen gnocchi will take about 5 minutes. Give it 30 seconds after rising to the surface and using a slotted spoon, place in a colander lined with absorbent kitchen paper. You may need to cook in batches.
Preheat your oven grill to high. Heat the butter in a frying pan (ovenproof, if you have one) and fry gnocchi in 2 batches over a medium heat. Toss until crispy and golden, but careful not to burn the butter.
Now return all the gnocchi to the pan and add the tomatoes, olives and basil and warm through. Now tear the mozzarella into pieces and add to the pan (if oven proof) or transfer everything to a baking dish and heat under the hot grill until everything is hot and the mozzarella is nicely melted.
Serve drizzled with olive oil and scattered with extra basil leaves.