Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Beetroot Gnocchi

Last week we made a very large batch of bright pink gnocchi. This recipe, by chef Gennaro Contaldo, came from the cookbook "Gennaro's Italian Home Cooking." Gnocchi's upside is cheap ingredients (potato and flour), while its downside is the relatively large mess it will leave in your kitchen. Granted, Josh and I are not professional gnocchi assembly-line workers, but I have a fair bit of cooking experience and there was still flour everywhere. No bother, for the few hours it took, we enjoyed glasses of wine and yielded 12 people's worth of gnocchi to store in the freezer. I will copy and paste the recipe down below. The sage and orange butter sauce was the perfect tangy compliment to the earthy tasting beets. It was the smallest amount of dairy for maximum effect; and that's the only way I will use dairy now a days. Having heaps of gnocchi in the freezer, with a slap-together gourmet pan-sauce, allows me serve surprise house guests a restaurant-quality dinner on the spot.

For the gnocchi
  • 1 kg/2lb 4oz floury potatoes, such as King Edward, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 400g/14oz cooked beetroot, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 300g/11oz plain flour
  • 1 free-range egg, lightly beaten
  • pinch salt

For the sauce

Preparation Method:
For the gnocchi, place the potatoes into a pan of salted water and bring to the boil. Simmer for 15-18 minutes, or until tender. Drain the potatoes and return them to the heat to drive off any excess moisture. Allow them to cool for a minute and then mash well using a potato masher or ricer. Blend the beetroot in a food processor to a purée. Pass the purée through a fine sieve.Tip the flour onto a clean work surface and make a well in the centre. Add the beaten egg, mashed potato, beetroot purée and salt to the well.

Using your hands, mix well until the dough reaches a smooth consistency. Split the dough into 4-6 equal pieces and roll each piece out into a long sausage shape. With a sharp knife, cut the gnocchi 'sausages' into 2cm/1in pieces and set aside. (At this stage, we put them on a flour-dusted cookie-sheet and let them freeze. We bagged 10/12 and used the rest for our dinner. I definitely recommend cooking them from frozen, as they will hold their shape better). 
Bring a large saucepan of lightly salted water to the boil. Add the gnocchi and simmer until they float back up to the top. As they come to the surface, lift them out with a slotted spoon. As soon as you drop the gnocchi into the boiling water, start making the sauce - you need to work quickly because the gnocchi will rise to the top after only a minute or so.

For the sauce and finishing, melt the butter in a large frying pan and add the sage leaves. Allow the sage to infuse for about 30 seconds and then add the orange juice and salt, to taste. Scoop out the cooked gnocchi with a slotted spoon, allowing them to drain a little, and then add them to the sauce, mixing well. Cook for a minute or so until the sauce begins to thicken slightly. Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the parmesan and serve immediately, sprinkled with orange zest. 

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