Frugal cooking

Potato gnocchiPotato gnocchi
Potato through a ricerPotato through a ricer
shaping gnocchishaping gnocchi
poaching gnocchipoaching gnocchi
gnocci with tomato saucegnocci with tomato sauce

Even without stockpiling madness you will probably find potatoes in most kitchens.  Inspired by a request from a (non Italian) friend in lockdown in Pisa for  a gnocchi recipe I went back through my old recipes. As a result I made potato gnocchi for lunch today. Comforting on a cold and windy day. Thursday’s pumpkin gnocchi was enjoyed in the sun in the garden. I’m on a gnocchi roll ! All you need for potato gnocchi is potatoes, flour and a little butter. You can choose to eat it with just melted butter, cheese and herbs scattered over the top or make a sauce to go with it. So here’s the recipe for simple but perfect potato gnocchi with a homemade tomato sauce.

POTATO GNOCCHI with TOMATO SAUCE         serves 2-4

 Ingredients:140g plain flour, 400g potatoes, salt and pepper, 50g butter plus extra

Sauce: 1-2 onions, oil, 4 large ripe tomatoes 1 clove of garlic, 1 tsp dried herbs

To serve: grated parmesan cheese, fresh herbs, chopped

 Make the sauce first so that it is ready when the gnocchi are cooked. Peel and slice the onion and add to a saucepan with a little oil in the bottom. Cover with a lid and over a low heat cook the onions gently.  Roughly chop the tomatoes and the garlic and add to the pan. Season with salt, pepper and dried herbs and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes until you have a sauce like mixture.

 For the gnocchi  chop the potatoes, roughly and steam until cooked, about 15 minutes. Cool and peel. Spread the flour over the work surface, about the size of a rectangular baking sheet. Push the potato through a potato ricer (or sieve) so that it falls evenly over the flour. Sprinkle the potato with salt. Pour over the melted butter.

Work the flour into the potato using a spatula, bringing everything together into a dough ball with your hands. Knead gently for a few minutes to make a smooth ball. Divide the dough into four and roll each into long thin sausages. Cut each sausage into 2 cm pieces. Keep them, separated on a floured surface until ready to cook. For a professional look each piece can be flicked with the tines of a fork to make small indentations.

Fill a large shallow saucepan with water. Put it on to boil. Warm a serving dish in the oven for the gnocchi, adding extra butter . Keep the temperature of the water at a bare simmer and carefully lower in the gnocchi using tongs or a spoon. They will sink to the bottom of the pan but after a few minutes rise to the top. Scoop them out of the water, draining away the water and place them in the warm serving dish. (You may have to cook the gnocchi in batches if your cooking pot is small.)

Serve the gnocchi warm tossed in the butter in the dish, sprinkling over some parmesan cheese and some more chopped herbs. The tomato sauce can be poured over or you can serve this separately. Accompany the gnocchi with some grated parmesan cheese and enjoy.