Friday, 16 December 2016

Gnocchi -"Soul love"

My favourite Gnocchi with tomato sauce and bocconcini from Chef Marco at Cha com Agua Salgada
Gnocchi seems to have become an appealing specialty beyond Italy’s borders of late.Here in Portugal, and in Spain too, gnocchi keeps popping up on menus. Gnocchi are one of those seemingly secret restaurant-only dishes that I always order.For those of you who are unfamiliar with the awesomeness that is gnocchi, they are basically little potato filled pasta pillows of yumminess. The only obstacles I can see to why gnocchi might not take off outside of Italy would be encountered in Northern Europe, where the habit of consuming large quantities of potatoes makes it difficult for a product that impinges on local traditions to penetrate.I am talking pierogis, the staple of of Eastern Europe, and in particular Slavic countries like Poland, Slovakia, Ukraine, and Russia, and Baltic countries such as  Latvia and Lithuania.Doughy and soft, filled with potato, bacon, cheese mushrooms or onion, pierogis are everything a good comfort food should be.But I am sorry, when it comes to dumplings nothing quite compares with the Italians very own dumpling, gnocchi. When it’s made right and topped with simple ingredients, it’s a delight. Gnocchi lends itself well to fresh herbs, pesto and is definitely the dumpling of my choice.Firstly, let me assure you that making gnocchi at home isn’t anywhere near as daunting as it is made out to be. In fact, it’s the ultimate excuse to relive your childhood and play with your food, forming flavoursome little pillows with only a knife and fork at your disposal.The three most common ways of serving gnocchi are either with a robust tomato sauce, a creamy cheese sauce or blanketing these little beauties in a rich butter and sage sauce.Here I have tried an on-trend sweet potato twist.
Ricotta and Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Roquefort sauce
These sweet potato gnocchi are both light and luxurious and can also be frozen for those nights when " inspirations have I none".
Serves 6–8

800g sweet potatoes
200g ricotta cheese
160g flour
1 free-range or organic egg yolk
a little butter
olive oil

FOR THE ROQUEFORT SAUCE
Melt 25g butter in a pan over a medium heat then stir in 1 tablespoon of flour. Slowly add 150ml milk, stirring all the time until the sauce is smooth and all the milk has been added. Bring to a simmer and add 50g chopped Roquefort or another blue cheese and stir.

AN ALTERNATIVE SAUCE: Dolcelatte and chopped piquillo peppers

Peel the sweet potatoes, cut them into large 3cm pieces and steam them; this will take about 20 minutes.Put a large pan of boiling salted water on a high heat. Drain the sweet potatoes, allow them to steam dry for a couple of minutes to get rid of as much moisture as possible.( I put them flat on a baking tray and dried them for 20 minutes on a very low heat in the oven then mashed them well with a potato masher or a potato ricer).Fold in the ricotta, flour and the beaten egg yolk. Leave the mixture for 5 minutes, then, on a well-floured surface working with a quarter of the dough at a time, roll it into two long, fattish sausages about 2cm in diameter.Leave for a further couple of minutes to firm up.Cut the sausages into short 2cm pieces.Roll each piece against the tines of a fork to make ridges; Keep these to one side while you roll and cut the rest of the gnocchi. Drop them into the boiling waterand cook until they rise to the top.
Meanwhile, warm four bowls. Once the gnocchi have risen to the surface, scoop them out of the pan into a big bowl, then stir through the sauce before dividing between the four bowls with an extra grating of Parmesan or pecorino, if you like.
THE TRICK:
Make sure your gnocchi mix is really dry before you mash it and add the rest of the ingredients.

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