Continuing the Italian way, let’s talk about gniocchi. Comforting, filling, really easy to make. First, you need a basic recipe for gniocchi:
100g flour (and more for dusting)
1. Peel and cook potatoes in salted water. Drain and mash until smooth. When they are cool enough to handle, add flour and egg to them, mix and transfer onto a floured surface and kneed until the dough is smooth.
2. Boil water with a pinch of salt. Divide the dough into four pieces and shape each piece, using plenty of flour, into a long roll (2cm thick). Cut the rolls into equal-size rounds and roll it on the fork to make marks typical for gniocchi (or if you make a lot and don’t have time press the fork onto each one. When the water boils, add the gniocchi and cook for 2-3 min.
3. Remove them with a slotted spoon. You will have to do that in a few batches as you can’t crowd gniocchi in a pan otherwise they’ll stick together and won’t boil properly. And now! Onto the 3 way.
Make basic tomato sauce. Start with heating olive oil in a pan, adding finely chopped shallots and 2 cloves of garlic. Sweat them for 2-3 min then add few chopped tomatoes (they can be canned). Add salt and pepper, splash or red wine or vodka if you want it to have a bit of a kick, simmer for 20 min on a low heat, add dried oregano and fresh basil. Serve gniocchi with your sauce and grated vegetarian parmesan.
Make pesto by putting into a food processor: a bunch of basil leaves, 100g of toasted pine nuts (or any nuts you like), zest of lemon, 2 cloves of chopped garlic, 100g of grated vegetarian parmesan and 1/2 cup of olive oil. Blend it together and pour onto your cooked gniocchi. Sprinkle some more toasted nuts and parmesan on top before you serve it.
The third way is the easiest way. While you’re cooking your gniocchi, cut 300g of cherry tomatoes in half. Add salt and pepper, mix well. Add 2 balls of chopped or shredded mozzarella and a handful of chopped basil. Mix everything together and add gniocchi. Delish!
P.S. If you don’t like potatoes or fancy something different, replace them with ricotta, add lemon zest. You can mix ricotta with goats cheese, add parmesan and probably 2-3 eggs. If you want it extra light, separate the eggs. Add yolks to the cheese plus 1 cup of sieved flour. Whisk egg whites and fold them into your dough. Using two spoons form gniocchi, spread them on a floured surface and boil just like the potato ones. For extra zing add chopped parsley or chives to your dough. You wouldn’t believe how nice they are.