Potato Gnocchi with Greens and Sage
Gnocchi may sound like they are laborious to make, but these light little dumplings bathed in buttery sage are well worth the time and attention. This particular recipe is adapted from the UK Guardian, with adjustments to make it gluten-free and (if desired) dairy-free as well.
Prep time is 10 minutes; cook time is 2 hours, 20 minutes (because of baking the potatoes); this recipe serves 4 to 6, depending
3 lb medium floury potatoes (such as russet potatoes in the US)
2 oz rock salt
About 3 oz gluten-free flour – I use Namaste brand
1 good grating of nutmeg
1 tsp salt
1 egg, beaten
1 small bunch crisp sage leaves (see below)
2 oz (¼ stick) unsalted butter or Earth Balance vegan spread
1 head (250g) cavolo nero, kale, or winter greens; I use a small bag of ‘power greens’.
2 oz Parmesan or vegetarian Italian hard cheese; you can substitute vegan pesto
Zest of one lemon
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Wash and pat dry the potatoes, then pierce all over with a fork. Scatter the rock salt into a roasting tin, sit the potatoes on top, and bake for one and a half to two hours, until soft. When the potatoes are ready, take them out of the oven and leave to cool until you can handle them.
- It’s important you do the next step while they are still warm – but be careful not to burn yourself. Halve the potatoes, scoop out the flesh, mash the potato flesh with a food processor. Place on a clean work surface and sprinkle with the flour. Season well with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Make a well in the center, pour in the egg and gradually work to a soft dough. Take care not to overwork the mixture though: knead only until everything is just-combined or the gnocchi will be tough. On the other hand, if you don’t add enough flour, the gnocchi will be too soft when cooked. It takes a little practice, but on the plus side that means you get to eat a lot of gnocchi.
- Bring a large pan of salted water to a boil. Take a teaspoon of the mixture and drop it into the boiling water to check it holds together. If it doesn’t, you may need to add a little more flour and test your dough again.
- When you’re happy with the test results, cut the dough into four pieces, roll each into long sausage shapes about ¾” thick, then cut each sausage into 1” lengths. You can cook your gnocchi straight away or store them in the fridge on a tray for up to 24 hours. If well-wrapped, the gnocchi also freeze well.
- Follow the recipe below to fry the sage leaves until crisp, then drain on kitchen paper. Put the sage pan back on a medium heat, add a tablespoon of olive oil and the butter or vegan spread, then add the greens and cook for four to five minutes, stirring until wilted.
- Reduce the pan of water to a brisk simmer. To cook the gnocchi, drop in batches into the pan and cook until they rise to the surface – about two and a half minutes. Use a slotted spoon to scoop up the gnocchi and pop them straight into the greens pan. Leave for one minute so they can take on some of the butter. Save some of the pasta cooking water.
- Finely grate most of the Parmesan and lemon zest over the gnocchi, toss well, add 3 fl oz cooking water and reduce to a thick sauce. Divide the gnocchi between two to four plates, grate over the remaining Parmesan and finish with a little drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.
Perfectly crisp sage leaves
This is really a technique rather than a recipe; I use butter and oil, because I like the taste as the butter begins to brown, but olive oil will work in place of the butter.
Prep time is 5 minutes; cook time is one minute; this quantity makes a jarful.
1 bunch fresh sage
1 Tbsp olive oil and 2 Tbsp butter, or 3 Tbsp olive oil
Coarse salt to taste; I use alder smoked salt for extra flavor
- Pinch the sage leaves off their stems. Heat a pan over a medium high heat, add the oil and heat a little before adding the butter.
- When the butter has melted and begins to sizzle, add the sage leaves – in batches so you don’t crowd the pan – and cook until they are dark brown and crisp – this should take 20-30 seconds. You can turn the leaves carefully with tongs if you need to.
- The leaves will turn a deeper, darker green when they are done. Once you see this, use a slotted spoon to transfer them quickly to a plate lined with kitchen roll, and sprinkle generously with coarse salt.
Wasn’t that fun?! Click HERE for the printer-friendly .pdf file.