Kevin Dundon's Italian Job
A FEW cupboard ingredients can make a very tasty supper, be it gnocchi using potatoes or homemade pasta made using pasta flour.
Once you’ve mastered these two, you have the basics for any meal.
If you’re new to making gnocchi, it’s important you use the right potatoes.
Older, floury potatoes work better than waxy potatoes as they have a lower water content and so need less flour. It’s crucial to mash the potatoes very finely, preferably using a ricer.
This prevents the starch from forming, ensuring nice light, barely-golden gnocchi.
You may need to add a little more flour to get the consistency correct for the potato dough, but be careful to add only a little extra at a time as if you add to much your gnocchi will end up tough and heavy.
If you are worried, take a little ball and drop it in boiling water; if it breaks up, you need to add a little more flour.
When making your own pasta, it’s vital to use pasta flour (in supermarkets). You can add herbs and flavours (such as sundried tomato) to the dough. Fresh pasta dough can be frozen to be used again, and you can vary fillings to your own taste.
Ricota & spinach stuffed ravioli
For the pasta:
275g pasta flour
1 tsp salt
7 ml rapeseed oil
3 egg yolks
For the filling:
400g spinach leaves
250g ricotta cheese
1 lemon zest
For the sauce:
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tbsp oregano
Fresh pea pods
To make the pasta dough, sift the flour into a bowl of a food processor and add the eggs, egg yolks, olive oil and a pinch of salt. Pulse until the ingredients come together in a soft dough.
2 The dough should be elastic and not sticky. Remove it onto a lightly-floured surface and knead for about five minutes, then place it in a bowl covered with cling film for 30 minutes before rolling it out.
3 While the dough is resting, prepare the filling. Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and add the spinach. Cook for two minutes until softened then remove from the boiling water immediately using a colander. Press to remove any excess water. Chop the spinach finely.
4 In a large bowl, mix together the chopped spinach, ricotta, lemon zest and egg. Season with some salt and freshly ground pepper.
5 Put the pasta dough on a lightly floured surface and roll as finely and evenly as possible (use a pasta machine if you have one). Roll into strips approx four inches wide. Shape small balls of the spinach filling and place them on the pasta strips about five cm apart. Moisten the edges with milk and cover with another strip of pasta. Press the pasta sheets together around the filling, sealing firmly. Cut into ravioli using a pastry wheel or sharp knife.
6 Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil. Add the ravioli and pea pods and cook for three to five minutes, until ‘al dente’. Drain to prevent the pasta from overcooking.
6 Meanwhile, in a non-stick pan, bring the passata, garlic and oregano to the boil and cook for three to four minutes.
7 Toss the ravioli and pea pods in some rapeseed oil and serve with some tomato sauce. Serve immediately
Potato gnocchi with Parmesan & courgette coulis
600g floury potatoes, peeled
110g Parmesan, grated
2 egg yolks
Salt & pepper
110g plain flour
Semolina/plain flour to coat
100g Toonsbridge ricotta cheese (or similar)
1 tbsp rapeseed oil
For the courgette coulis:
2 Courgettes + extra to grate for serving
1 clove garlic
1 tbsp rapeseed oil
Salt and pepper
½ tsp lemon zest
1 Chop the potatoes into small chunks, put them into a pot and cover with lightly salted water. Bring to the boil and cook until tender. Once cooked, drain the potatoes and mash until really smooth. Set aside and allow to cool down slightly.
2 Add in the parmesan cheese and the egg yolks and season well with salt and pepper. Add in the plain flour at this stage and mix well.
2 Divide the potato dough into pieces, roll into long tubular shapes and cut with a sharp knife into pieces about one inch long, or even a little less. Then roll into an oblong shape and chill for a few minutes (overnight is fine too).
3 In the meantime, heat a small pan and add the courgette, garlic and shallot and cook gently in a little oil for three to four minutes. Remove from the heat and blitz with a hand-held blender until smooth, adding the butter as you start to blitz.
4 To cook the gnocchi, bring a large pan of water to the boil. Add a teaspoon of oil and drop the gnocchi into the saucepan in small batches. When they are cooked they will rise to the top of the saucepan.
5 Divide the gnocchi between the serving plates and drizzle with a little courgette coulis, and sprinkle with crumbed ricotta and a little lemon zest. :