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Homemade Gnocchi & Quick Tomato Sauce

17 Nov

gnocchi 1You have to make gnocchi by hand at least once in your life.

Making gnocchi is great if you have kids, they love helping roll the dough out, cut out the gnocchi and creating the little indents with a fork. And of course, there is the fun of watching them float to the top of the bubbling boiling water when they’re cooked (fully supervised of course!).

So here is a fool-proof method I use and hope you find it equally as easy and enjoyable. It may be a little more fiddly than buying a pack of premade Latina pasta, but you’ll be sure when you eat them that you’ve never had gnocchi as good as the ones you have crafted with your own hands.

The secret behind successful gnocchi is using the right potatoes. Older potatoes are best and they should be the floury type of spuds, like Desiree potatoes due to the lower water content.

GNOCCHI

  • 4 (750g) desiree potatoes, unpeeled
  • 1 1/3 cups (200g) plain flour, plus a little extra

METHOD

  1. Fill saucepan with cold water, place potatoes in pan and cook for approx 20 minutes until cooked through.
  2. Drain well.Gnocchi
  3. While still hot, peel by hand and then using a potato ricer or a little tool called a mouli (a French gadget otherwise known as a rotary grinder), puree the potatoes. The trick here is to stop the gnocchi from becoming starchy and heavy, so they need to be mashed quite finely.
  4. Season with salt to taste and then let your mashed potato sit to cool while the Bold and the Beautiful is on.
  5. Mix the flour into the mashed potato and start to knead the mixture with your hands- the amount of flour you add will make or break your gnocchi. Too much and you’re going to be boiling little bullets. If you don’t put enough, you’re going to be having slush soup for dinner not perfectly fluffy and gorgeous gnocchi. You don’t want the mixture to still be sticky, so add the flour in gradual steps until you have a nice dough.
  6. Once you’ve got a nice dough formed, cut it into about 4 equal sized pieces. Roll each piece out to form a log about 2cm wide. Flour a sharp knife and then cut each log into 1.5cm sized pieces.
  7. This is the bit where the kids can help. Once you’ve cut out the gnocchi, gently press the tines of a fork into each one so you leave an imprint of the fork tines.
  8. Now you need a big saucepan, filled with water brought tot he boil. Cook the gnocchi in batches. You will know when they are cooked because they’ll float to the top of the pot. Cook the gnocchi for 10- 20 seconds then pull them out with a large slotted spoon and drain them well. Cook the whole batch, then it’s time to add a yummy sauce to compliment all your hard work.

QUICK TOMATO SAUCE

I am personally greatly offended by the jars of pasta sauce that these supermarkets are selling these days. I honestly have never tasted anything more ridiculous in my whole life. Putting some raw garlic in a jar with half a cup of sugar and some horribly tart tomato paste is not tomato sauce. Until these jars lift their game, I’m all for making your own tasty sauce.

Here’s how I make it.

  • 8 (about 1kg) ripe Roma/egg tomatoes, halved lengthways, cored
  • 60ml (1/4 cup) olive oil
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 brown onion, halved, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 tbs tomato paste
  • 2 tsp sugar (optional)
  • fresh basil, finely chopped (to taste)
  • fresh flat leaf parsley, finely chopped (to taste)

METHOD

  1. Preheat your oven to about 160°C. Put your tomatoes, cut side up in a large pan with about 2 tbs of olive oil and season. Roast for about 25-30 mins until tender and collapsing.
  2. Heat your remaining oil in a saucepan, cook your onion and garlic until the onion is soft and mouthwatering and your belly is starting to rumble because the stuff in your kitchen is starting to smell kinda good.
  3. Add your tomatoes and tomato paste to the onion mixture and cook for approx 5 minutes.
  4. Once the sauce is bubbling away, reduce the heat to a simmer and add your sugar and herbs, stirring to ensure everything is mixed well and not sticking to your pot.
  5. Season with salt and pepper and once you’ve gotten the sauce just how you want it, pour your pasta in and stir through for approx a minute or so, to ensure the pasta soaks up the delicious flavour of your sauce.
  6. Serve with some shaved fresh parmesan cheese and a sprinkling of chopped parsley.

tomato sauceAlternative ideas for your pasta sauce:

Tomato, olive and capers: Add 80g (1/2 cup) sliced pitted kalamata olives and 50g (1/4 cup) drained capers in step 5.

Chili, olive and prosciutto sauce: Add chili flakes to taste, 1/2 cup sliced kalamata olives to sauce in step 5. Then top with crispy grilled prosciutto slices and some fresh basil leaves.

Bacon, capsicum and chili sauce: Cook finely chopped rindless bacon with diced red capsicum with the onion and garlic in step 2. Add chili during step 5.

Red wine and mushroom sauce: Saute your mushrooms with your garlic and onion during step 2. Add 1/2 cup sweet red wine to the sauce, during step 4.

Roasted vegetable sauce: Thinly slice red capsicum, slice eggplant and zucchini, thinly slice kumara/pumpkin and cut brown onion into wedges. Add a few unpeeled garlic gloves to the mix. Add mushrooms. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast in the oven until vegies are soft and fragrant, then add to your sauce during step 4. Serve with freshly shaved parmesan cheese and basil leaves and some crusty break to soak up all those delicious flavours.

Note: All the photos in this post are mine- if you would like to use them, please just link back here. 🙂

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6 Comments

Posted by on November 17, 2009 in Delish Dinners, How To, Recipe of the Week

 

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