You may not believe me but this was my first time making Potato Gnocchi.  I’m not sure why but I’ve always put it in the too hard basket and truth be told, it is not something I normally order or crave.  It is a bit touch and go in restaurants as sometimes it can be a bit stodgy and I always look at the serving sizes and think it’s not going to be enough. Well, after making my own, my opinion has vastly altered. I followed a Jamie Oliver recipe and as with all of his recipes, it was bang on.  Light, soft and silky pillows in a simple, oven roasted tomato sauce (which was my recipe……not Jamie’s) was an absolute triumph and the best part was it made a mountain of the stuff so I have ready made Potato Gnocchi in the freezer for another meal. I will definitely make this again, it was damn delicious.

The potatoes that you use for Gnocchi are really important.  The need to be nice and starchy not waxy.  I used organic Dutch Cream Potatoes that are available at most big supermarkets or specialty grocery stores.  You could always use Yukon Gold or Desiree for alternatives if this variety is unavailable.

For the best results a potato ricer is perfect for making lump free and silky gnocchi.  If you don’t have one, you can use a masher but try and get it as absolutey lump free as you can.

Prep time:  40 Minutes

Cooking time:  1 Hour, including the boiling of the potatoes

$ Low Budget

Serves 6

For the Potato Gnocchi:

1kg of potatoes, skin on

100gm of ‘OO’ flour

1/2 tsp of grated nutmeg (I like to grate fresh but ground is fine)

For the Sauce:

500gm of assorted baby tomatoes, left whole

1 small red onion, finely sliced top to bottom

2 rosemary sprigs, leaves removed and stalks discarded

8 thyme sprigs, leaves removed and stalks discarded

8 sprigs of fresh oregano, leaves removed and stalks discarded

3 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced

Grated rind of 1 lemon

1 tsp of chilli flakes

Sea salt & Pepper

1/2 cup of good quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Freshly grated parmesan to serve

Toasted pine nuts to serve

Basil leaves and baby herbs to serve (baby herbs are optional, I just grow them myself)

To make the Potato Gnocchi, wash your potatoes if they are dirty and place them in a large pot of water.  Bring the pot to the boil and then reduce to a simmer for about 25 minutes or until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a skewer. Once cooked, drain and allow to steam with the lid on for 5 minutes.  Remove the lid and once cool enough to handle, use your fingers to peel away the skin and discard.

Scatter some flour over the bench and one by one, place the potatoes through the potato ricer.  It will come out like little worms, which is kind of cool.  Once all of the potatoes are done and in a nice pile, sprinkle over 100gm of the ‘OO’ flour, grate the nutmeg on top and season with salt and pepper.  Using dry, floured hands, bring the mixture together in a scrunching and pushing motion.  It can get quite sticky if too overworked, it really just needs to come together.  Use more flour if needed (it does require a little common sense) and knead until pliable.  Bring the dough together in a round ball and cut into equal quarters.

With floured hands, roll each quarter out into a long cylinder shape (like a long sausage) and use a dough cutter or sharp knife to cut little pillows about 1 inch long.  Use the back of a fork to make little indentations as this will help the sauce to grab on to the potato gnocchi.  I was also not too fussy about it looking absolutely perfect either…..A. because it was my first time and B. it is a rustic style dish so having it not so perfect is fine.

Place each little bundle of joy on a lined oven tray and cover with a slightly damp tea towel until you are ready to cook it.  If you would like to freeze the dough, it is better to allow it to dry out for a few hours (without the damp tea towel) before freezing on a tray.  Once frozen you can transfer it to zip lock bags.

Preheat the oven to 160°C.  Place the tomatoes, onions, garlic, herbs, chilli flakes and lemon rind in a large baking tray or lasagne dish.  Season well with salt and pepper and pour over the olive oil.  It may seem like a lot of oil, but you are going to smash the tomatoes once cooked and the juices will emulsify together with the oil.  Bake in the oven for about an hour until the tomatoes are nice and blistered.  Remove from the oven and use a potato masher to squash them down and burst them, then stir to combine so you have a lovely sauce, which would be equally good on any pasta.

Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and add the gnocchi, a few handfuls at a time.  The Potato Gnocchi is cooked when it floats to the surface and this only takes a couple of minutes.  Use a slotted spoon to drain the gnocchi and add it straight to the tomatoes.  Once all of the gnocchi is cooked, toss it through the sauce and serve it immediately with a sprinkling of grated parmesan, toasted pine nuts and fresh basil leaves and baby herbs.

Leftover Potatoes?  You may like to cook this old gem…..

Potato Gnocchi with Blistered Tomato Sauce