Extracted from The Art of Traditional Italian by Lucio Galletto,
published by Lantern, RRP$59.99’; and
photography by Ben Dearnley,
“These spinach gnocchi were one of the great tenor Caruso’s favourite dishes. When he was booed after a show in Naples, Caruso famously said he would never sing there again, but he would go back to eat its wonderful food, and these gnocchi were one of the reasons to return.” (p.86-87)
700 g potatoes (desiree or similar)
400 g spinach, washed, stems removed 1 egg
150 g plain flour
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper 80 ml extra virgin olive oil
1 golden shallot, finely chopped 400 g ripe cherry tomatoes, halved handful of basil leaves
100 g freshly grated parmesan
Place the potatoes in a saucepan of cold salted water. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for 20–30 minutes, until tender.
While the potatoes are cooking, prepare the spinach. Wash the leaves well and place them in a saucepan over medium heat, with just the water clinging to the leaves. Cover and cook for a few minutes, until wilted. Drain in a ﬁne-meshed sieve and squeeze to extract as much liquid as possible. Place on a chopping board and chop very ﬁnely.
When the potatoes are ready, drain well and peel while still warm. Pass through a mouli or potato ricer into a large bowl and allow to cool, then add the spinach and the egg. Mix lightly and quickly with a fork, then add the ﬂour and season with salt. Quickly use your hands to form the mixture into a dough. Don’t work it too much or the gnocchi will be tough. Divide the dough into 6 portions.
Working on a well-ﬂoured surface, use your hands to shape each piece of dough into a long rope the thickness of your ﬁnger. Using a sharp knife, cut each rope into evenly sized pieces, about 2–4 cm long. As you cut the gnocchi, lay them on a ﬂoured tea towel in a single layer; do not let them touch each other. When they are all done, roll each one over the tines of a fork to create the classic grooves that will hold the sauce. If you prefer, you can press your ﬁnger onto the middle of each one instead. Set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a heavy-based frying pan over medium heat and sauté the shallot, stirring with a wooden spoon, for about 3 minutes, until translucent. Add the tomatoes and sauté gently, stirring from time to time, for 10–15 minutes, until the tomatoes break down. Season with salt and pepper, then sprinkle over the basil, reserving some for a garnish. Mix and let it cook for a couple of minutes, then remove from the heat.
Cook the gnocchi in plenty of boiling salted water by placing them on a plate and tilting the plate over the boiling water, allowing them to slide in gently. As the gnocchi rise to the surface, use a slotted spoon to transfer them to the frying pan with the sauce. Return the pan to low heat, toss the gnocchi gently with half the parmesan, then serve hot sprinkled with the reserved basil and with the rest of the parmesan on the side.
86 — MINESTRE —