Potato gnocchi with zucchini and pecorino
Small, young zucchini are perfect for this vegetarian dish. If you can, try to find those still attached to their golden blossoms they will make a welcome addition to the light gnocchi sauce.
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- Two golden shallots, thinly sliced pinch of salt flakes
- Three zucchini (courgettes), sliced into thin rounds
- One clove garlic, skin on, bashed with the back of a knife
- 150 ml vegetable stock
- 1 cup (80 g) shaved pecorino
- Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
Ingredients of potato gnocchi:
- 850 g potatoes (such as desiree or russet), well washed
- One egg yolk small pinch of salt flakes
- 3/4-1 cup (110-150 g) plain flour, plus extra for dusting
To make the gnocchi, put the potatoes (in their skins) in a large saucepan of cold salted water. Bring to the boil over high heat and cook for 35-40 minutes or until cooked. Drain well, and then peel the potatoes, using a paring knife if necessary as they will be scorching. Pass the potatoes through a ricer (or use a potato masher), and allow to cook for 5-10 minutes. Add the egg yolk and salt, and then start adding the flour, a little at a time. Depending on your potatoes and the type of flour you use, you may need to use a little more or less than indicated. You want soft dough that is pliable and not sticky. Don’t be tempted to add too much flour otherwise your gnocchi will be massive. Cut the dough into 4-5 pieces, and then roll them out on a surface dusted with flour and shape them into 2-3 cm thick logs. Cut each log into 2-3 cm pieces. You can leave them like that or roll them onto a floured fork, gently but like you mean it. When you serve up, the ridges in the tine pattern will trap the sauce for the joy of your palate. Once you have rolled all your gnocchi, dust them with flour and set aside. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil while you make the sauce. Heat the olive oil in a large heavy based frying pan or work over medium low heat and gently fry the shallot and salt for 1-2 minutes. Add the zucchini and garlic and cook for 5-9 minutes, and then pour in the stock and bring to a simmer. Cook for 5 minutes or so, to allow the flavours to mingle and the liquid to reduce slightly. Taste for salt and adjust accordingly, keeping in mind the pecorino added in the end will give a salty kick. Remove from heat and set aside. Add the gnocchi to the boiling water in batches so you don’t overcrowd the pan. As soon as they’re cooked, they will float to the surface. Fish them out with a slotted spoon and drop them straight into the sauce for 1 minute, and then remove from heat and crown with pecorino shavings and lemon zest. Serve piping hot, preferably with a chilled glass of Cesaruolo. Note that cooking garlic in its skin is very typical of Italian home cooking. Its beautiful flavour will be imparted into the sauce without leaving its pungency lingering on your breath.