Over the Christmas period I was watching an episode of Two Greedy Italians, one of my favourite cooking shows, although I have to admit the list is quite long; they were making Ricotta Gnocchi, it looked so delicious that I thought I would put my own spin on it and give it a try. I like to use recipes as a guide, which could be why I am not too fond on baking…
These recipes were so tasty that Ben, my fiancé said it was the best meal I have ever made! I also made Focaccia to accompany it, there is nothing worse than not being able to mop up any leftover sauce and having it go to waste. The Focaccia also makes enough to feed a small army so you can keep it for a few days for lunches, toast etc.
While these recipes may appear daunting at first, they are so easy and delicious and I hope you try them.
- 200g flour – used 00 flour as I had it on hand for the Focaccia, although plan flour will do if you don’t have 00
- 225g of ricotta
- 3 egg yolks
- 30g grated parmesan – the real stuff not the horrible impostor parmesan in the shake bottle. That is not real cheese.
- A sprinkle of nutmeg
- Freshly ground rock salt and black pepper to taste
- Rind of one lemon, finely grated
- Mix flour, ricotta, egg yolks, parmesan, nutmeg, salt and pepper in a large bowl to form a moist dough. It will seem as though it is too dry and first and you will be tempted to add water but it will come together so resist the urge! If after around 3 minutes it is definitely too dry add one tbs of water and try again, repeat if necessary.
- Turn the mixture onto a floured work surface, flouring the surface is essential to ensure your mixture doesn’t stick. Knead for 5 minutes and roll into a long thing sausage shape approximately 2cm wide then cut into 1cm long pieces.
- Cook the gnocchi in a large pot of well salted, rapidly boiling water for 3-4 minutes or until they rise.
- Scoop the gnocchi out with a slotted spoon and add to pasta sauce, the excess water will be slightly starchy and will add some slight liquid to the mixture.
Roast Tomato Pasta Sauce
This is a very basic tomato pasta sauce recipe that will suit any gnocchi or pasta dish you wish to make, you can also use it as a base for other sauces to add things like salami, roasted capsicum, olives etc.
- 1 tin of crush tomatoes
- 2 tbs tomato paste
- Half punnet of cherry tomatoes
- 6 cloves of garlic
- 1 tbs of freshly cut chilli, membrane and seeds removed
- 1 medium sized onion very finely diced – take the time to do this it is worth it
- Freshly ground rock salt and black pepper to taste
- 1/2 tps of the following dried herbs and spices – oregano, basil, rosemary, thyme, sage, garlic, onion, marjoram and red peppers (dried capsicum)
- Olive Oil
- Fresh basil leaves
- Raw sugar
- Preheat a fan forced oven to 180C, line a small oven proof dish with baking paper, add cherry tomatoes and cook until the skin has blistered. The time for this will vary depending on your oven but it should take approximately 15 minutes.
- Preheat a large pan, add a dash good quality olive oil, onion and garlic.
- Fry until onion it is translucent. Add the tomato paste and a good sprinkle of raw sugar. The inclusion of raw sugar when using tomato paste is essential as it cuts through the acidity.
- Add the blistered cherry tomatoes and allow to fry for a minute before adding the tinned tomatoes. Stir and add salt, pepper and seasoning.
- Allow to simmer to around 10 minutes, taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
- Once the gnocchi has been added to the sauce, tear the fresh basil leaves and sprinkle them over the top. Stir to combine ensuring that all gnocchi is evenly coated.
- Serve in the pan at the table with extra grated parmesan.
Garlic and Rosemary Focaccia
Serves a small army
- 1kg 00 flour
- 3 x 7g packets of dried yeast
- 625ml luke warm water
- 2tbs raw sugar
- Freshly ground rock salt and black pepper
- 1 tbs table salt
- 1 bulb of garlic
- Fresh or dried rosemary leaves, as many or as little as you like
- Olive oil
- Add the flour to a large bowl making a well in the middle. Add the yeast, half the water, salt and the table salt.
- Using a fork gradually bring the flour from the outside of the bowl into the middle and mix until you form a stodgy consistency.
- Add the remaining water and combine well using your hands.
- Turn the dough onto a well floured surface and knead for 5-10 minutes.
- Form a ball and place the dough into an oiled, flour dusted bowl and cover with a damp tea towel for one hour or until it has doubled in size.
- Using your fist, knock the air out of the dough and turn onto a floured surface, kneading until smooth and elasticy, approximately 3-5 minutes.
- Grease a baking tin, approximately 30 x 25cm, with oil and flour.
- Roll or stretch the dough to fit into the tin.
- Using the back of your knife, break open the garlic leaving the skins on, tear the rosemary leaves, add both to a small bowl and mix with olive oil, salt and pepper.
- use your fingers to push small indents into the bread, scatter with garlic and rosemary and drizzle with olive oil. Cover with a dry tea towel and allow to prove for one hour.
- Preheat a fan forced oven to 220C.
- Indent the mixture with your fingers once more, sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Bake for 15-25 minutes until golden brown and slightly springy to touch.
- Allow to cool for 5 minutes, remove from tray, place on large cutting board next to gnocchi and serve at the table with balsamic vinegar and oil olive to dip.