Friday 23 March 2018

Basil and Potato Gnocchi

Mark Ahessy

Gnocchi can be prepared and stored in a refrigerator for at least two days in advance until it is ready to be used. Not only is it a delicious light dinner dish but it is perfect for breakfast served with bacon, spinach and a poached egg.

Serves four.


500g mashed potato (about eight baking potatoes)

60g good-quality Parmesan, grated

1 egg

1 egg yolk

180g type 00 flour (available in good supermarkets)

100g sun-dried tomatoes, chopped

200g spinach

Sea salt

100g soft goat's cheese

20g fresh basil, chopped

Parmesan, finely grated

Good-quality olive oil


Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4.

Put the potatoes on a baking dish and place in the oven for about 45 minutes or until they are fully cooked through. Test with a sharp knife – you should have to gently push the knife through the skin; it should not slide in easily, otherwise the potatoes will be overcooked and mushy.

Peel them quickly, as the cooler they get, the less fluffy they become.

Mash the baked potatoes and then push through a sieve into a bowl, using a spatula or ladle, so they form the consistency of a puree.

Bring a saucepan of salted water gently to the boil, ready for your gnocchi, and have a bowl of iced water prepared for the final stage.

Make a hollow in the mashed potatoes and pour in the Parmesan, egg and egg yolk, then gradually add the type 00 flour. Work the mixture together with your hands. As a dough starts to form, press and stretch with the heel of your hand.

Work carefully and quickly, as the more you handle the dough the harder and bouncier it will become. The dough should have the same lightness as a pastry.

You should now have a soft dough that holds together, doesn't feel sticky and can be easily shaped. Turn the dough out on to a floured surface and lightly flour the dough ball.

Cut the dough into eight equal pieces. Take each individual piece and roll into sausage forms that are about an inch-and-a-half wide, working lightly and quickly.

From the sausage-shaped dough, cut each piece into even pillow shapes that are each about two inches long. Holding them very lightly, form each pillow into a small concave gnocchi shape. Then hold them against the prongs of the back of a fork, pressing only firmly enough to get the imprint.

Using small quantities of the gnocchi at a time, drop them into the boiling water. Gnocchi normally takes about a minute, but when it is ready it will float to the top of the water. Remove from the boiling water quickly using a spoon and place the cooked gnocchi into the iced water.

Repeat this for each batch of gnocchi.

Once the gnocchi has cooled completely, spread the pieces out evenly on a cool tray and place in the fridge until you are ready to begin cooking and serving the dish.

Heat the olive oil in a pan over a medium heat. When it is nice and hot, place one layer of gnocchi in the pan and lightly brown the gnocchi to a golden colour.

Add the sun-dried tomatoes, followed by the spinach. Season with some sea salt and, just moments before removing the pan from the heat, add some soft goat's cheese, allowing it to slightly melt.

Serve immediately and finish the gnocchi dish with the freshly chopped basil, a sprinkling of finely grated Parmesan and a drizzle of olive oil.

Irish Independent

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