Parsley Gnocchi – The End of The Bunch

baked_marabel_potatoes_for_gnocchi

The end of The Parsley Trilogy!  Am I sick of parsley?  Not one little bit, I actually bought the same sized bunch again today (along with all of the food) to go in some Minestrone (I’ll tell you about it later) and maybe some tabouleh but probably not as the weather is pretty grim here up North.

I had never eaten gnocchi.  Truth.  I do indeed love food, you’re right.  I absolutely love to eat, right again! But whenever I had seen gnocchi on the menu it’s just seemed too much, y’get me?  A plate full of what are essentially small potato dumplings sound like a food baby waiting to happen.  As I’ve eaten my way through them (and I have, greedily, covered in parsley & walnut pesto with truffle oil, mostly at midnight after work, in pyjamas watching old episodes of QI) I’ve realised that they are perfect in small doses.

sieving_marabel_potatoes_for_gnocchi

Were they a hassle to make? Nope.  Were they messy?  Only the fun kind.  The dough created is so soft and light I felt like a kid in the kitchen again.  They actually kept quite well in the fridge for a few days too,  I didn’t even cover them in oil.  Yeah, they stuck together ever so slightly but I’d rather pluck them apart a bit then coat them in oil (when I reheated them they were in oily pesto, I didn’t want double oil).

parsley_gnocchi_dough

The recipe I “followed” was this (The Parsley Gnocchi With Goat’s Curd and Hazelnuts about a third the way down the page – can you tell I was looking for inspiration?!) I’ve adapted it slightly.  The most important change being not to boil them for 5 minutes.  Madness.  If you don’t whip them out shortly after they float you will have nothing but lumpy potato water-broth-soup and have to start boiling water all over again.  Bleurgh.

freshly_cut_parsley_gnocchi

Would I change anything next time?  Absolutely.  Whilst they were delicious soft pillows of delight they were slightly sweet because the potatoes had been baked.  I should have known better. Next time I’ll be boiling the potatoes in their skins (minimises water absorption) in salty water.  They’d be perfect with a really sharp piquant sauce but I wasn’t expecting it.

This made enough for about six people for a light supper, about 72 pieces approximately.

1kg Marabel potatoes – I used Marabel because they have a butteryness I love
Large bunch of parsley, blitzed to a paste in a blender (I didn’t blanch it) – makes them green! Yay for green food!
1 beaten egg
300g plain flour
50g butter
Salt & pepper

I stabbed my potatoes four times with a knife and baked them at 200 for an hour.
I let them cool for about twenty minutes until I could hold them.
One by one I split them in two and turfed out their potato fluff into a sieve – I don’t own a potato ricer, got one? crack on – and pressed it through with the back of a spoon. Leave the potatoes in their skins until you’re ready to smoosh so they don’t dry out.
Add the parsley mush, butter, seasoning and flour.
Very gently bring all of this together, do not overwork the flour or the dough will be gluey and tough (the lightest muffins and fluffiest pancakes don’t have their batters beaten to death now, do they?).

Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil.

Lightly flour your work surface and turn out the dough. I did it in four batches.
Keep the dough dusted with flour so it doesn’t stick, it’s very delicate.
Gently roll it into a rope about 1″-1.5″ wide. With a blunt knife bravely chop it into pieces, dusting the knife with flour if it begins to tear the dough.  Lightly coat them with flour so they don’t stick together. I pressed mine gently with a fork on an angle which is why they look like fatty ovals! Pop your pieces of gnocchi onto a plate.

I chopped half of my ropes at a time and then cooked them so I didn’t overcrowd my pan.  Use your judgement here with your pan size.  Tip the gnocchi off the plate and into the boiling water.  Whilst I waited for them to come to the surface – about 2-3 minutes – I chopped and plated the remaining half of the rope.  When they were floating around I used a sieve to lift them out onto a different plate and left them to cool for a couple of minutes, carefully draining any excess water.

I repeated this for all of the dough and piled them all onto one plate once they were cool.  They firmed up and were a little tacky but as long as I was gentle none of them broke or ripped apart.

That was it!  I covered them with cling film and kept them happily in the fridge.  They’ve been a good little stand by that’s quick to reheat, I’d probably feel healthier if I had them on a bed of spinach/rocket/chard but they were pretty tasty nonetheless.  I think next time I’ll hit up some butternut squash with sage, parmesan and a little chilli!

parsley_gnocchi

Aglio e Olio

aglio_e_olio

I had promised myself that by the end of Thursday the parsley would be all used up.  I got home from work absolutely famished (I’ve started to try out walking to and from work – less pennies, hopefully less inches too). Cue aglio e olio!  So simple, so amazing and so delicious.  Simple always is, isn’t it?  I really shouldn’t act so surprised.

I think perhaps the only thing I did differently was to keep my garlic quite sharp, I only let it take on a mere hint of colour around the edges (sounds awfully pretentious, no?).  I like it with a bit of bite.

This time I was only cooking for one.  Something I’m not very good at, I think I’m always under the illusion that I’m feeding twelve.

100g spaghetti – I grab it out of the packet so that the spaghetti fits between my thumb and first finger when I put the tip of my thumb to my second knuckle.. if that makes any sense to any one!
1 clove garlic – sliced thinly
2 tbsp good quality olive oil – it really makes a difference, particularly as this is a minimal dish
bunch of parsley chopped – mine was about a small handful
grated parmesan – again, about a small handful

Boil up your spaghetti in salty water, I always remember our Italian customers (and now chefs on telly) saying you should cook your pasta in water as salty as the sea.
While that’s going on, gently warm up the olive oil and sling in the garlic. I pretty much just heated my garlic through. Letting it sizzle gently for about four minutes on the lowest heat. Most other folks seem to go for a light browning. Go wild, just don’t burn it.  Burnt garlic is bitter and nasty.
Again, at this stage people talk about adding chilli flakes – if I had had any, I surely would.
Drain the pasta when it’s al dente but don’t drain all the liquid off, keep about two tablespoons in with the pasta.
Chuck in the garlic and oil and coat everything, then the parsley and parmesan. Mix everything around, the parmesan along with the starchy cooking liquor make a beautiful emulsion so everything clings together.
Shove it in a bowl or eat it straight from the pan, no one’s looking!

lemon_for_aglio_e_olio
What I did do when I was almost finished was sling it a little bit of lemon juice, no more than a teaspoon maybe, just to brighten things up a little bit.

Of course you can embellish it with capers; olives; seafood; sundried tomatoes; wilted greens (chard!) etc. etc., but it’s nice to know that something simple and cheap can be wonderful without other ingredients.