Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Today I am ... comfort cooking (and eating)

Easy pan-fried gnocchi with ricotta, parsley and lemon zest

Ever made pasta from scratch? I've never felt the inclination myself - much as I love eating Italian food, if I'm going to spend that long in the kitchen and spend money on something as grown up as a pasta machine, I want to end up with something a bit more dazzling.

So I'm going to tell you a secret - home-made gnocchi (pasta's oft-overlooked cousin) is a walk in the park, and is totally worth the minimal effort.

The recipe I'm about to share definitely has the wow factor: pan-fried gnocchi made with ricotta, parsley and lemon zest. You just can't buy anything like this in supermarkets.

This could happily make for a comforting, filling winter supper, or an extravagant summer lunch with friends and a large glass of chilled white wine. Either way, it's pure, indulgent escapism in food form.

Sadly I can't claim it as my own; I have adapted it from a recipe by American blog Jaden's Steamy Kitchen, which describes each individual nugget as 'like a beautiful Italian's luscious lips'. Bit creepy...

But I understand the enthusiasm. I'd probably opt for 'crispy, melt in the mouth pillows of deliciousness', but then I've never kissed an Italian.

What separates this from stodgy supermarket gnocchi is the notable absence of potato, and the unusual step of pan-frying the gnocchi instead of boiling it. The result is a much lighter, creamy gnocchi with a crunchy, caramelised exterior.

What also makes this such a comforting culinary experience is the therapeutic process of cooking it. It's reassuringly messy, thanks to the kneading and rolling that's required; if you're anything like me you'll get flour in your hair, face and hands (giving you that attractive 'hard-working baker' look...), but in fact it's foolproof. I didn't even have any scales myself, so I used a wine glass, based on the fact that a large glass is about 250ml... You have to work with what you've got!

It didn't seem to have an effect on the final result though, which turned out perfectly. I did wonder if it was going to be enough for me and my sister (after all, it is often said that we both have an 'extra pizza/pasta stomach' - like cows have for grass). But rest assured this was rich, satisfying and the perfect amount for two ladies who laugh in the face of calories.

I have added garlic butter to the original recipe, and next time I shall serve it with a simple rocket salad rather than on its own. You could also play around with this, perhaps freestyling with pesto or finely chopped sunblush tomatoes to the gnocchi dough.

You are welcome!

The only gnocchi recipe you'll ever need (serves two)

Adapted from Steamy Kitchen
  • 1 pot of ricotta (about 250ml)
  • A good handful of parmesan cheese (plus extra reserved for garnishing)
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest (plus extra reserved for garnishing)
  • 100g plain flour
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley (plus extra reserved for garnishing)
  • 4 tablespoons garlic butter (I used Lurpak's ready made garlic butter)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
1. Mix together the ricotta, parmesan, yolk, zest, parsley and salt in large bowl. Sprinkle half of the flour on the mixture, gently stir around a few times to incorporate. Dump the mixture on a lightly floured board. Sprinkle the remaining flour on top of the mixture. Gently knead with your fingertips, just bringing together the mixture until flour is incorporated through. This only should take a minute or two.

2. Divide dough into 4 parts. Take one part and roll into a long, thin sausage. Cut gnocchi into 1" pieces. Repeat with the rest of the dough.

3. Heat frying pan over medium-high heat. Add half the garlic butter and the olive oil. When butter is just lightly browned, add gnocchi in single layer. Fry on one side for 2 minutes, flip. Fry other side for 3-4 minutes. Timing totally depends on how big your gnocchi is. Do a taste test - do you taste flour? Not done yet. Keep cooking and trying it, until it tastes amazing.

4. When it's ready, remove the gnocchi with a slotted spoon and arrange on plates. Add the rest of the garlic butter to the pan until it has just melted. Then drizzle the melted garlic butter over the gnocchi. Serve with a generous sprinkling of lemon zest, parmesan and parsley.

1 comment:

  1. Wowzer's Emily 'Ramsey' Rosselli!

    Very impressed! Hope you like the sneaky follow! You can see my old writing through my blog xx