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I have a very long list of recipes to try, price and post and one of those recipes was gnocchi. Miss South over on northsouthfood.com posted a recipe for just that, but using instant mashed potato. I was very surprised by that to say the least, I associate dried mash with horrible school mash, dry, gluey and nasty tasting. But Miss South is an expert when it comes to spuds, so I resolved to give it a go. Eventually found a 49p packet, and tried it. And what can I say, they were light and delicious, everything you could ask of a gnocchi. So here they are, in the recipe list, and with many thanks to Miss South for discovering them.
I would even give the mash a go just as it is in a pinch
Makes 2 servings
Using 50g of dried potato, make it up according to the instructions
For the pkt I bought, that would be half a sachet, 49p/200g pk, 12p
90g plain flour, 45p/1.5kg, 3p
For the tomato sauce
Half a tin of tomatoes, 16p
Small onion, optional
salt and pepper
Start with the tomato sauce by frying the onion until transparent in a little oil in a saucepan, if using. If not, just put the tomatoes in the pan, season with half a tsp of salt and a good grinding of pepper and simmer for 10 minutes or so. If you like a smooth sauce, give them a whizz, otherwise, leave them as they are. Add some fresh basil if you have it.
The potato packet says to use roughly half milk, but I just used water, and it was fine. If using the mash as it is, you would really need to add butter or something, but for gnocchi, water is fine.
You will need to allow the mix to cool before adding the flour. Mix it all in aiming to make a soft dough. You may need a little more.
Divide the mixture into two, and roll each half out with your hands to a long sausage about an inch thick. Now cut each sausage into 3/4 inch pieces and press the back of a fork into them to make the characteristic pattern. Place them on a baking tray lined with cling film or baking parchment, they get very sticky as they stand.
You can now leave them and cook them later, or freeze them. If you do freeze them, make sure you keep them separated until frozen or they will be one big, sticky lump.
When you are ready to cook them, bring a saucepan of water to the boil and add a little salt.
Drop half a dozen or so in the water at a time and simmer gently for a minute or two until they bob to the surface, when they will be done.
Now serve them up and top them with the tomato sauce and some more fresh basil if you have it.
We topped ours with a little fine grated cheddar and we had them with a little coleslaw. Apologies to Miss South, but I like this! I fine chopped a little white cabbage and a carrot and mixed it with a tbslp mayonnaise, 2 tblsps of yogort and some Dijon mustard.
You could have these with any sauce you like really. You could make a hot tomato sauce with chilli, or add some Indian spices, or add tomato purée to the gnocchi mix
In my copy of The Silver Spoon, the Italians Mrs Beeton, there is an entire chapter devoted to gnocchi. You can cover them with Bechamel sauce and top with Parmesan, sprinkle with Fontina cheese, add fine chopped walnuts to the mix and top with melted butter, sizzle herb leaves in the topping butter (sage or rosemary), mix fine chopped spinach into the mix and serve topped with butter and Parmesan. And these are just the Gnocchi di patate.
You could add the fine chopped herbs into the gnocchi mix itself, or anything else that you think would work well, those last little shreds of chicken from the carcass, or a tiny bit of ham. Or how about a few chopped capers on top or in them.
You could use a pumpkin or courgette instead or as well as potato
You could even make a sweet version by serving them topped with a cheapy lemon curd sauce, or a red jam one, or how about a chocolate version made by mixing some cocoa into the mix and serving with cheapy chocolate grated over.