Gnocchi with a vegetable ragu

Gnocchi with a veggie ragu

I don’t know about you, but I’m starting to feel the damp tendrils of Autumn approaching. There are a few leaves starting to turn brown and spiral desultorily to the pavement. And mornings are noticeably cooler.

Not that this is a bad thing, not least because I was an Autumnal baby and feel an affinity with this time of year. And, because I like to eat to suit the season, I can cook more substantial food like gnocchi. Although I like to retain a bit of summery lightness.

Up till now I ‘ve only ever bought these Italian mini-dumplings from the shop or eaten them out. The contrast has been stark. The ones I’ve bought (with a few honourable – and pricey – exceptions) have tended to the sticky and heavy, squatting in my stomach like some sort of primeval beastie from the deeps, gurgling and groaning. So these days I steer clear.

Some of the ones I’ve eaten out though, wow, a completely different spoonful of spud. Light, airy, fluffy and so very tasty. Compared to Mr Sainsbury’s best gnocchi they seemed to float cloud-like from my fork and down my gullet.

So, unsure of how hard it might be, I determined to make my own, to see how lump-like, or otherwise, they were. Happily, using a recipe I found in Kate Caldesi’s Italian Cookery Course, it all seemed pretty straight forward.

To add a summery feel to affairs, I made a zesty veggie ragu. Replacing the heaviness of meat with a herby zingy ingredients made for a light sauce that balanced the potatoey parcels.

While I didn’t achieve the fluffy nirvana of Locatelli’s gnocchi, for a first attempt they weren’t bad. Tastier and lighter than supermarket efforts, and surprisingly easy to make. This is a recipe I will practice.

What’s really great is that you can shape them how you like, if you want large, fork formed ovals, them you can make them. If you’re lazy, like me and are happy with small pillows, then that’s what you do. Hell, if you want teddy bears or taj mahal shaped gnocchi, knock yourself out. I love cooking like that.

The Gnocchi
Enough for four decent sized portions

I was pleasantly surprised how easy it was to make Gnocchi. although there is one thing I’d change. Having just bought a Magimix, and fired up with magi-enthusiasm, I used it to puree the potatoes.

Next time, I’d rice/mash them. The puree was a little too sticky and elastic, I think ricing them would put a bit more air into the mash, making them a little lighter. Although that might be down to the type of potato I used.

Gnocchi (with thanks to Kate Caldesi and her Italian Cookery Course book)
500g potato
125g 00 Italian flour
.5 Half an egg, beaten
salt and pepper to season

Cook the potatoes (in their skins) in boiling water until soft. The time it takes will depend on the size of the potatoes. I had five medium potatoes and they took about 30 mins. While still hot, drain them and hold in a tea towel and peel them. Put the potatoes through a ricer/Magimix/masher.

Stir about a third of the flour and the egg into the potato to form a light dough. Put the rest of the flour on a board and tip out the dough on to it. Knead the potato dough into the flour until it forms a pliable dough. Add more flour if necessary.

Break the dough into handfulls and roll out into thin sausages about a centimetre thick. Chop into 2cm long pieces. Drop into boiling water. When they float they’re done. Stir into the ragu, grate over the Parmesan and the chopped basil.

1 onion
1 small red pepper
2 stalks of celery
1 clove garlic
.5 tsp marmite, harissa, dark brown sugar, tomato ketchup
1 bay leaf
1 tsp-ish dried oregano
1 tin chopped tommies
A little water

fresh basil

Dice the onion, celery and pepper and sweat in extra virgin olive oil for 15-20 minutes over a low heat. Crush the garlic and stir it into the vegetable. Stir in everything else and simmer over the lowest possible heat for about 20 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning to taste.

Stir the gnocchi into the sauce, shred the basil and stir that in. Grate over the Parmesan and serve.

14 Responses to “Gnocchi with a vegetable ragu”

  1. Becci

    Yay. I made gnocchi recently ( and it really isn’t as hard as people make out, is it? And much better than shop bought, I think.

    My next foray into the gnocchi world with be of the semolina or ricotta variety, methinks.

    Ughy, don’t put marmite in ragu though. Bleugh ;-)

  2. Lizzie

    Oh I love gnocchi so much but have always been too nervous to make it at home. Potato ricer is going on the birthday present list…

  3. The Grubworm

    @Becci – your gnocchi post is great, flags up the things to avoid. I suspect I slightly overworked my dough as well as using the Magimix to make them a little denser than i’d like, But they weren’t gluey happily.

    Next time, methinks i might aim for some flavours – I’ll work in either some beetroot, or maybe home made pesto. And really, the marmite just added a little meaty umami, it didn’t taste marmity at all. Promise!

    @Lizzie – i was shocked how straight forward it was, I made them on a work night as well. Really no hassle. I’d recommend Kate Cladesi’s book for a recipe – it’s so easy.

  4. Leluu

    Thanks for the tip! It sounds so easy!
    I’ve always hated gnooci as like you said, I always got the really heavy ones and they didn’t ever sit well with me. Then I went to The Saltoun Supper Club and Arno changed my perspective on gnocci in an instant! So light and fluffy and tasty.
    Then I went and bought them from the shops – the best one I found if you are ever that way – get me some too – COSTCO! yip!

    I shall be making these now following your recipe and really looking forward to it

  5. catty

    This looks DELICIOUS. you always make the things I like to eat (eg risotto!)… speaking of risotto, not sure if it appeals to you but Strada are having a risotto festival and have a special risotto menu! I had the pancetta and pumpkin one the other day and it was SO GOOD.

  6. Joshua

    Looking good. I imagine a ricer would give a lighter result than a Magimix, anything too high speed destroys the texture of potato. I bought one for the purpose of making gnocchi but so far it’s sat unused in the cupboard.

  7. Nora

    They look scrumptious! I’ve been meaning to give gnocchi a try for ages and it really is time I got around to it. And I do rather like the sound of teddy bear shaped gnocchi…!

  8. The Grubworm

    @Leluu – so how did your turn out in the end? I will clear up the recipe above so that it’s clearer about the egg ;-) Gnocchi are definitely one of those things that range from heavy stodge to light clouds, depending on how they’re made.

    @catty – thanks, it wasn’t bad. Taste was good, even if they were a little heavy. I’ll check out the strada thing, good to know it’s tasty.

    @Joshua – you are so right i think, i’ll be on the look out for a ricer now.

    @Nora – thanks! Do give them a go, they;re pretty easy, just don;t over work the dough and use a good floury potato. And if you do the teddy bear shapes, take a picture and send it over!

  9. The Grubworm

    @Tom – you remember, the cold damp brownleaf time. You’ll miss it next year ;-)

    @Leluu – so glad it all came out well. I need to give it another go soon, got a whole bunch of potatoes that need using up. Maybe I’ll mix in a little roast beetroot this time.

  10. The Grubworm

    @Gail – ever since i found this recipe, they have moved up my list of favourite things… Yum.

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