Gnocchi, a dish found all over Italy with its true origins unknown; only that it dates back to at least the 15th century. Although shrouded in a little mystery there’s one thing for certain, it’s a surprisingly delicious dish. Traditionally made from potatoes, eggs and flour and paired with a range of sauces. Although you’ll often find them served in the UK as Gnocchi alla Sorrentina with a smooth tomato sauce, melted mozarella on top and topped with basil.
I wanted to mix it up a little as I’ve never attempted homemade gnocchi from scratch, so I opted for gnocchi made from ricotta and spinach served with a fresh homemade tomato sauce. This recipe is an adaptation of Gino Da’Campo’s gnudi.
First things first you need to prep your mixture. As I live on my own I often find myself halving recipes or even quartering them so that I don’t waste food. I’ll often make a portion for two so I can have leftovers for lunch the following day.
In terms of quantities, for every 1 egg use the following (serves 2):
- 200g spinach
- 125g ricotta
- 60g plain flour
- 60g freshly grated parmesan
Blanch the spinach with boiling water and dry it to remove any excess water.
Chop the spinah and mix together with the eggs, parmesan and ricotta. Don’t forget to season, you can always add a little freshly grated nutmeg to the ricotta first too.
This is where it gets a little messy but I found it strangely therapeutic – lightly flour a board, and take a piece of the mixture and roll it into a ball on the floured surface into the size of a walnut.
Then place the balls on a tray and pop them in the fridge for 30 minutes.
While they’re chilling you prepare for your tomato sauce and enjoy a glass of wine! I LOVE italian food but I cannot seem to master the silkiness of their sauces, this is probably the closest I’ve come.
Use 300g of cherry tomatoes (again to every 1 egg), the better quality the more flavoursome they’ll make the sauce. I confess, the first time I made this I was out of these so used larger on the vine tomatoes but they did the job!
Halve the tomatoes and finely slice 1 garlic clove.
When your gnocchi are ready bring a pan of water to the boil and place in the gnocchi for about ten minutes and begin to cook the sauce.
Heat some olive oil in a pan (if you want to measure, a tablespoon should be about right), on a medium heat throw in the garlic for a minute before you add the tomatoes. Let them break down in the pan as they cook for about 3-4 minutes, you might want to add a splash of the water from the gnocchi to loosen the sauce – I never saw the benefit of this but it works, it really softens the sauce. Add some salt and pepper.
Once your gnocchi have risen to the top of the pan add them to the sauce and stir in.
Serve with some basil leaves, parmesan shavings and a drizzle of olive oil.