Thursday, January 24, 2013

Gnocchi with Spinach Pesto and Yogurt Cheese

So, this stuff isn't really that big a deal to make, and gnocchi in general requires a "chill" attitude towards making, and eating. There is a great deal of ink spilled telling you how difficult, time consuming, and important gnocchi is, but it's actually easy, and also, delicious. I prefer my gnocchi slightly firmer, but nowhere near as firm as the stuff sold commercially, but I honestly don't really like stuff that dissolves in your mouth either. Also, for shock value, mostly because it doesn't really matter, I microwave my potatoes, and then use a box grater on them, so, anyone that says you have to bake them, or, you have to boil them then dry them out, and use a potato ricer, its not really true. Also, gnocchi is really about feel, and you should make them whatever length and size you really feel like, I vary them slightly when I make them, partially because I don't really care, and partially because I like it, when it comes to cooking them, I do group them by size though and cook them in size batches, just to ensure even cooking.

Also, gnocchi are really, really fast to make, and for some reason, lots of people find them impressive. Probably because they don't know how easy or fast they are to make. Also, with regards to sauce, you can eat them any way you want, I made them this way because I had some spinach I wanted to use up, and I'm allergic to nuts, so I don't eat pesto most of the time. However, gnocchi are good with tomato or cream based sauces, butter and herbs, butter and cheese, and simply even olive oil and salt and pepper, or honestly, without anything at all. Honestly, you could even use them in a stew, or a soup, or a curry, they'd be equally as good.

Also, Pesto and Yogurt Cheese, two things everyone should make, are included below. And pesto, like gnocchi is a touch and feel thing, you can make it to taste and some people like to add enough oil that it splits out, it's really about what you like. Yogurt cheese is so simple and with such a big payoff its ridiculous, it's like cream cheese, but, if you use fat free Greek yogurt, it's basically fat free cream cheese that tastes better than cream cheese! You can use other yogurt, and even fruit yogurt for the process, its all good. The process is simple, and the less whey in the yogurt, the quicker the process.


Serves 2

1 Potato (Approx 240g)
4 Heaping Spoonfuls All Purpose Flour (Approx 40g, some for kneading)
1 Large Egg 65g (Beaten)
Salt, Pepper

1. Wash and clean potato, remove eyes or black spots. Pierce all over then microwave on high, 3 minutes in a 1200W microwave. Flip potato over in microwave, and repeat again on high for 3 minutes.

2. Wear gloves or allow potato to cool for about 7 minutes, cut in half and grate flesh into a bowl, discard peel. I usually eat the peel with salt and pepper, it's delicious, and contains a great deal of vitamin C.

3. Lightly toss potato flesh in the bowl with a spoon to allow them to cool slightly then add beaten egg and salt and pepper, stir to combine. Then add flour, stir until dough forms into a large ball then turn out onto floured board.

4. Gently knead on floured board until dough stops being tacky. This usually takes only a few minutes, gnocchi dough requires nowhere near the same amount of kneading as bread dough.

5. Form dough into long finger thickness ropes, then cut ropes into knuckle sized pieces. If you have a gnocchi board, use it to create the traditional ridges. They don't REALLY do much for the gnocchi, but they're very appealing to the eye. See below for a pretty chill video on using a gnocchi board.

6. Boil pieces in lightly salted boiling water, gnocchi are cooked, and ready to be scooped out when they've floated for about 30 seconds. Drain gnocchi fairly well, coat lightly with olive oil and salt and pepper for serving. Keep warm until pesto or sauce is ready then combine and serve.


Small Batch

1 Cup Baby Spinach (Approx, Cleaned)
1/4 Cup Unfiltered Olive Oil
1 Clove Raw Garlic
1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
1/2 Tbsp Dried Basil
1 Tsp each Salt and Pepper

1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and combine well. If using as a sauce for gnocchi, warm slightly then combine with warm gnocchi.

Yogurt Cheese

1 500g Container of Greek Yogurt
This yogurt is already thick, so the process is really quick, thinner yogurt takes longer to drain, and will yield less yogurt cheese.

1. Line a fine mesh sieve with paper towel and place it into a bowl large enough that the sieve sits without falling out, and with at least 10cm of clearance from the bottom of the bowl.

2. Pour the yogurt into the paper towel lined sieve, cover with more paper towel or fold sides of paper towel back over the yogurt.

3. Refrigerate for 24 hours or until about as firm as cream cheese. Discard liquid or use to flavour sauces, stews, soups, or curries. It's a slightly acquired taste though and is essentially whey protein, which some people drink to build muscle. Just taste it before using it in a sauce.

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