Gnocchi has a tainted reputation due to the prepackaged varieties available in the supermarket. They are bland and very stodgy. Freshly made gnocchi should be light and fluffy like little pillows. If you’re not a fan of gnocchi and have never tried freshly made, give it a go – you may find that you’re pleasantly surprised.  

Gnocchi can be served as is, with a sauce of choice, or it can be pan fried in a bit of oil or butter until browned before topping with sauce, I’ve chosen to top it with a fresh cherry tomato and basil ragù but it’s a very versatile dish.

Gnocchi also freezes well and can be cooked from frozen. Simply place the shaped gnocchi on a floured tray, put the tray in the freezer, and bag up when frozen – to cook when ready. The cooking time may be a minute or two longer, but when it floats, it’s done.

SPINACH GNOCCHI WITH CHERRY TOMATO RAGÙ

Serves 8

For the gnocchi
500g potatoes
200g frozen spinach (frozen weight)
200g 00 pasta flour

For the cherry tomato ragù
3-4 tbsp olive oil, not extra virgin
3-4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
600g cherry tomatoes, the orange Sun Gold variety if possible
150ml white wine
20g fresh basil, leaves only
salt and freshly ground black pepper
grated Italian cheese (use a dairy free cheese for a vegan version)

METHOD
For the gnocchi

Boil, steam or bake the potatoes with their skins on until a knife is easily inserted. Leave to cool just a little and remove the skins while the potatoes are still warm. Use rubber gloves if the potato is too hot. 

Thaw the frozen spinach and squeeze out as much of the excess water as possible. Chop very finely.

Pass the warm potato through a potato ricer, grate or fluff with a fork until smooth and absolutely no lumps remain. It’s very important to remove all lumps as you will feel them in the finished gnocchi.

Add the spinach and mix well. Using your hands, work the flour into the potato mixture, thoroughly, but with a light touch. 

When the flour has been mixed in, the dough should not be sticky or soft, it should be firm and smooth. If the dough seems sticky, add a bit more flour or if it seems too dry, add a bit of water.

Break off golf ball sizes of the dough and gently roll out into sausage-like shapes about 2.5cm (1 inch) thick. Cut the gnocchi to 2.5cm (1 inch) pieces. 

Touch each of the gnocchi with a fork on all sides to make grooves for the sauce. Alternatively, a gnocchi paddle can be used and is great fun. Place the gnocchi on a well-floured tray.

Cook the gnocchi in plenty of salted boiling water for just a couple of minutes. The gnocchi are ready when they float to the top. Don’t cook too many at once; it’s fine to reuse the water, just scoop out the floating gnocchi, bring the water back to a boil and repeat. Save a bit of the cooking water for the sauce.

For the cherry tomato ragù

Heat a large frying pan with 3 tbsp of olive oil over a low heat. Add the chopped garlic and cook for about 2 minutes.

Add the whole cherry tomatoes and stir well to lift the garlic from the bottom of the pan. Turn the heat up to medium.

Cook the tomatoes for about 5 minutes, stirring regularly, adding more oil if needed. Using a potato masher or a fork, mash the cherry tomatoes.

Cook for 5 more minutes then add the white wine. Reduce until most of the wine has cooked out.

Roll up the basil and thinly slice into what’s called a chiffonade. Add the fresh basil and season with salt and pepper. Toss the cooked gnocchi in the sauce with a bit of the cooking liquid and gently simmer for a few minutes. Serve immediately with grated Italian cheese, or a vegan alternative.

Have you made this dish? I love seeing my delicious recipes come to life, so share a picture with me on Instagram by tagging @naturalcookeryschool and I’ll re-share your post!

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