Potato and flour dumplings with Pesto Gnocchi di Patate al Pesto

Serves 4

800g floury potatoes
200g Italian ‘00’ flour
1 medium egg
salt and pepper, to taste
60g Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

1 recipe fresh pesto (see Pesto alla Genovese)

Many people try to make gnocchi without managing to achieve the perfect softness and lightness of a cloud. To have the perfect plate of gnocchi, which are also very good with tomato sauce (see my recipe for Basic Tomato Sauce), follow this recipe exactly. Here I suggest you add quagliata or junket to make a pesto popular in the eastern parts of Liguria, but you could leave this out.

Preheat the oven to 200 °C / Gas 6. Pierce the potatoes a few times with a knife, place in the oven and bake for 1 hour until tender. Scoop the cooked flesh out into a bowl and mash to a purée. Do not use a machine, as this makes the potato too sticky. Mix the potato purée with the flour and egg. Work it together, kneading with your hands, until it is a homogenous mixture. Taking a little at a time from a pile of dough, form it on a floured work surface into tiny sausage shapes 2cm in diameter. Cut 2cm chunks with a knife then lightly press, away from you, against the tines of an upright fork to get the ridge indentations. (These will help collect more sauce.)  Place the finished gnocchi on a clean pre-floured cloth.

Meanwhile make the pesto as per my recipe Pesto alla Genovese, adding the curdled milk, or junket if you like. When finished, put it in a saucepan big enough to hold the gnocchi and add a little water. The sauce has to remain raw although warm, so heat it through very gently.

Cook the gnocchi in plenty of boiling salted water. After 30 seconds to 1 minute the gnocchi will swim up to the surface of the water. They are now cooked. Scoop them out with a slotted spoon and put into the pan with the pesto. Mix well, season to taste and serve immediately with a sprinkling of grated Parmesan.

This recipe is from Antonio Carluccio’s Pasta