When it comes to pasta, I’m not the greatest fan of noodles – tagliatelle, spaghetti and pappardelle don’t rank high on my list of craved carbohydrates. Perhaps it’s all that twisting and twirling that puts me off – which is why I get most enthusiastic for what I term “mouthful” pasta. These are made up of ravioli, penne, farfalle, tortellini and my absolute favourite – gnocchi. Delicious pillowy morsels that seem to suck up whatever sauce they are bathed in, gnocchi rank in the top 5 of my most cherished comfort foods. And because we know that presentation is just as important as flavour, I was inspired to use Country Road’s new range of homeware to serve my gnocchi in. Appealing to my minimalist aesthetic, the collection also features a distinct retro appeal combined with sleek lines and surprising shapes – think Seventies stoneware meets traditional Japanese design.
But what about that aforementioned warm bath of sauce? While the vibrant red of a classic Napoletana sauce made with ripe tomatoes and fresh basil will always be a much-loved treat – perfect in it’s simplicity – a close runner-up has to be anything blue cheese-based. Especially if one goes authentic and uses the decadently oozy Gorgonzola for that extra Italian flavour. In my recipe for my Baked Gorgonzola Gnocchi, I’ve combined a traditional cream-based sauce with homemade gnocchi, grated over a generous amount of Parmesan cheese and baked the dish in the oven until bubbling and golden. Meltingly moreish, this is a dish that is as hedonistic as it is heavenly – and it definitely won’t do one’s diet any good. But if it is utter enjoyment that you’re after, then read on.
Baked Gorgonzola Gnocchi
Prep time: 30 mins / Cook time: 20 mins / Serves: 4 to 6
For the gnocchi, you will need:
- 4 large potatoes, washed, peeled and cut into quarters
- 1 large organic egg, whisked
- 300g extra fine “00” flour
- 20g finely grated Parmesan cheese
- Fine salt and pepper
- Extra flour or semolina, to dust
Fill a pot with about 3cm of water and bring to the boil over high heat. Fit a steamer over the top of the pot, making sure that the base of the steamer doesn’t touch the water and steam the quartered potatoes until tender. This should take about 15 minutes. When tender, transfer the potatoes into a potato ricer (you could use a masher, but a ricer guarantees a lighter gnocchi) and rice into a bowl. Season with salt and pepper and lightly mix until the potatoes are smooth.
Combine the whisked egg into the potato mixture along with half of the flour and all of the Parmesan. When combined, add in the remaining flour in two batches and a firm dough forms. If you find that the dough is too soft, add in a little more flour. Working with floured hands, pace the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth. Line a sheet tray with baking paper and sprinkle over a little more flour. Divide the gnocchi dough into four equal parts and roll each part into a log, about 2cm in diameter and 30cm in length. Use a lightly floured knife to cut each log into 2cm pieces before gently rolling each piece along the back of a floured fork to achieve the classic gnocchi appearance. Place the gnocchi on the floured tray until ready for cooking.
To cook, bring a pot of salted water to the boil over medium heat. Add in a generous glug of olive oil and cook the gnocchi in batches to avoid overcrowding. They take about 3 minutes to cook, but will rise to the surface of the water when done. Use a slotted spoon to fish the gnocchi out and allow them to drain in a colander.
* One can either then cover the cooked gnocchi with foil to keep them warm, but I prefer to cook them once the sauce is ready so that I can simply add them to the sauce immediately.
For the Gorgonzola sauce you will need:
- 300g Italian Gorgonzola, rind removed
- 250ml fresh cream
- a large garlic clove, peeled
- a handful of fresh sage, washed, stalks removed and finely chopped
- 100g Parmesan cheese, grated
- Coarse ground black pepper
- the zest of half a lemon
In a saucepan, melt the Gorgonzola into the cream over low heat until smooth and combined. Add the fresh sage and season with black pepper.
To assemble, rub the inside of an oven-proof bowl or baking dish with the garlic clove and arrange the cooked gnocchi along the base. Pour over the Gorgonzola cream sauce until the gnocchi is almost entirely submerged and scatter the Parmesan over the top. Bake in a 190°C oven until the sauce has reduced slightly, the Parmesan has melted and the dish is bubbling and golden. Sprinkle over the lemon zest and serve immediately.