Gnocchi with Tomato and Basil

There is something so comforting about gnocchi, I am not sure if it is the sense of accomplishment for trying to make them rather than buy them, or whether it is the comfort of wrapping your hands around a bowl of  something so moreish and belly-warming. It might be both, but I love making gnocchi and once you have the hang of it, not difficult at all. Come on, you try it……

The thing with making gnocchi is that you must get the ratio of potato to flour just right and also choose your potatoes wisely. Another important issue is to not get too much water in the potatoes when you cook them. One way of doing this is to cook the potatoes with their skins on and peel them afterwards, but my favorite and most successful way of doing this is to bake the potatoes in their jackets. With electricity costs rising almost every month, this can become quite a costly exercise so I roast my potatoes whenever I have to switch the oven on for something else. For instance tonight, we are having tuna bake so while this casserole is in the oven, I will roast a few potatoes and make my gnocchi, so tomorrow night’s supper is halfway done.
The best potatoes to use for gnocchi is a floury potato with very little water content, which in South Africa means…. Up-to-date potatoes!

Gnocchi with Tomato and Basil
serves 4 people

Ingredients
800gr Up-to-date  potatoes – about 5 potatoes
200gr flour + more flour for rolling of gnocchi
salt
1 extra large egg

Method

Bake the potatoes in a  180C oven until fork tender. As the potatoes come out the oven, halve them and scoop out the flesh and push through a food ricer. Allow to cool a little and then add 1 cup of the flour and salt, work it through, add the egg and then if it needs more flour, add the rest of the flour. Take care not to over-process the dough as your gnocchi will be tough and dense rather than pillow-like.
Divide the dough into “ropes”, about 2,5 cm thick. With a floured knife, cut the “ropes” into small gnocchi (1,5cm)and roll over the back of a fork to make the grooves. The grooves are just so that the sauce will cling better to the gnocchi.
Heat a big pot of water on the stove, add some salt and cook the gnocchi in batches, making sure the water always stays at boiling temperature. Once the gnocchi floats to the top, it is cooked and can be scooped out and drained on kitchen towels. Serve with a rich tomato and basil sauce.

Tomato and basil sauce
Ingredients
1 small onion- finely chopped
1 clove of garlic – crushed
2 T vegetable oil
2 cans of chopped tomatoes
80 gr tomato paste
100ml white wine
15ml sugar
juice and zest of a lemon
salt and pepper to taste
a big handful of basil

Method
Heat the oil in a pan and fry the onion and garlic until soft, but not brown. Add all other ingredients and allow to slowly cook and reduce until you have a really intense tomato sauce.

To serve the gnocchi, you can do it two ways:
 – when your sauce is perfectly reduced and you are happy with the taste, place the gnocchi in the sauce and tossed the gnocchi so that each gnocchi gets a lovely red coat…. bring to the table with lots of chunky ciabatta.
 – for a slightly more civilized and refined meal, when you have to impress hubby’s boss, serve the gnocchi in individual plates with a spoon full of tomato sauce over it.

In both cases, serve with freshly grated Parmesan and some fresh basil.

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