So classic, but so good! I’ve found that gnocchi is something you might order in a restaurant, but not necessarily make at home. There’s something about making pasta that seems super-scary… but making gnocchi is so easy! Think of it as kind of one step beyond making mashed potato.
You’ll need these confit garlic cloves for my gnocchi recipe but this will make more than you need. You can add it in recipes instead of normal garlic. Use as needed – and that goes for the oil as well as the cloves. For the cloves, simply squeeze them out of the skin and away you go.
Prep time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Cooking time: 50 minutes
For the confit garlic
- 2 whole garlic bulbs
- About 200ml olive oil
For the gnocchi
- 250g red-skinned potatoes (about 3 potatoes)
- 20g parmesan, finely grated, plus extra to serve
- A pinch of ground nutmeg
- 1 large egg
- 80g ‘00’ flour (pasta flour), plus extra for dusting
- 1 tbsp salt, for the cooking water, plus extra to season
For the sauce
- 50g butter
- 6 confit garlic cloves
- A large bunch of sage, leaves picked
- Make your confit garlic. Slice the bottom off each bulb of garlic just enough that you can see the garlic cloves inside, but no more. Remove the outside papery skin of the garlic bulb to release the cloves, but leave the cloves themselves with their skins on. (I do this because its easier to peel the cloves once they’re cooked than it is to peel them raw.)
- Place all the individual cloves into a small saucepan and cover well with the olive oil (use more if you need to – the cloves should be covered).
- Place the pan over a low-medium heat and cook, keeping an eye on the temperature of the oil throughout – it shouldn’t boil, but just gently plod along with the occasional movement in the garlic.
- After 30-40 minutes, test to see if your garlic is ready: use a fork to lift out a clove and when it’s cool enough to touch, give it a squeeze. If the garlic clove drops out from the skin easily and is soft and golden in colour, your garlic is ready. If it’s not quite there yet, pop it back in for another 5-10 minutes and test again.
- Remove the pan from the heat. Leave the oil to cool down completely, then carefully pour it, with all the cloves, into a clean glass jar. Seal with a tight-fitting lid until ready to use six cloves for the dish.
- Preheat your oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Once the oven is hot, prick your potatoes with a fork, then bake them for 1 hour, until the flesh is cooked and tender.
- Take the potatoes out of the oven and, when hot enough to handle, cut them open and scoop out the flesh into a fine sieve. Press the potato through the sieve onto a clean surface. Weigh out 250g and discard (by which I mean eat) any that’s remaining.
- Place the 250g spud flesh into a mixing bowl and, while it’s still hot, mix through the parmesan and nutmeg and season with salt and pepper.
- Make a well in the centre of the potato mixture and crack in the egg, then dust your hands with a little flour and use them to bring the potato and egg together. Once fully combined, add half the flour to start forming a dough. When that’s mixed in, add the other half and knead to combine again. Stop kneading as soon as the dough is no longer sticky.
- Take a quarter of the dough and cover the rest with a clean tea towel so it doesn’t dry up. Using floured hands, roll the quarter of dough into a long sausage shape about 2cm thick and about 45cm long.
- Use a sharp knife to cut 2.5cm-long pillows of soft gnocchi. Transfer the cut pieces to a board dusted with flour and cover with a clean tea towel. Repeat the rolling and cutting with the next quarter of dough, and so on until you’ve used up all the dough.
- Fill a deep saucepan with water (about three-quarters full) and add the tablespoon of salt. Place the pan over a high heat and bring the water to the boil. Then add the gnocchi to the pan, allowing them to sink to the bottom and bob around – when they float to the top (about 1-2 minutes), they’re ready.
- While all this is happening, make the sauce. Place a large frying pan (big enough to accommodate all the gnocchi) over a medium–high heat. Add the butter and leave it to melt. Add the chopped confit garlic cloves and the sage leaves.
- As the cooked gnocchi come to the surface of the water, use a slotted spoon to transfer them straight into the sage-y, garlic-y, butter-y goodness.
- Cook them in the pan until they’re getting golden on both sides, giving the pan an occasional toss to prevent any gnocchi from burning. Transfer to serving bowls and sprinkle over some parmesan to serve.
Recipe from Poppy Cooks: The Food You Need, by Poppy O’Toole, is published by Bloomsbury (£16.99) Order your copy from the Telegraph Bookshop.