A part of me gets really excited when I know that I will be spending the night in at home, alone. My introverted self takes over and all I want to do is cook myself a nice dinner and take it to the couch, where I will happily settle in for the night with a pot of tea and a good foreign movie. I understand that for some, cooking a proper meal seems silly when there is no one around to share it with. But sometimes having no one around can be my most favourite time in the kitchen. I can let my experimental cook come out while I blast Billie Holiday, put on my apron and pretend that I am Alice Waters or Julia Child, depending on my mood...
This week I wanted to share a recipe with you that I discovered on one of these 'home alone' nights while living in London.
I had just been to a quiet Italian restaurant on Portabello Rd with a friend a couple of nights before. I had ordered the house made gnocchi and had fallen in love with the sauce. It was tomato based and had the most delicious smokey flavour to it, the memory of which I just couldn't get out of my mouth or mind.
So, this particular Friday night when my Irish housemates decided to go out and party, I decided to stay in, attempt to make the same tasting gnocchi and make the most of having the kitchen and living room to myself. It seems crazy now to think that I knocked back the opportunity to hit up London on a Friday night, but the thrill of trying to recreate the dish that I ate a couple of nights before held me back. It was that good. True to form, after picking up the groceries and a foreign film for later, I brought out Billie and began to create.
It turns out that my gnocchi recreation is often my go to when I am in need of a familiar meal for one and am craving a big bowl of pasta. It's the smokiness. It gets me every time. And every time it is worth making. The secret? Smoked Paprika. Yeah.
Today I had it for lunch. I also went and picked some white spring blooms to have with my lunch. Clearly I am in a sharing mood, as I decided to throw in some pictures of the flowers too. Anyway, here is my recipe for home made ricotta gnocchi with smokey paprika sauce. Enjoy.
Home Made Gnocchi with Smokey Paprika Sauce
prep time: 10 minutes
cook time: 20 minutes
total time: 30 minutes
yields: 2 servings
For the Sauce
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 (about 500g) vine-ripened tomatoes, diced
1 garlic clove, finely crushed
1 tbs chopped fresh basil leaves
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
freshly ground black pepper to taste
parmigiano-reggiano cheese for serving
For the Gnocchi
500g potatoes, peeled and chopped into small pieces
1/2 cup (100g ) fresh ricotta
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 large egg, lightly beaten
salt and pepper to taste
Place potatoes in a small saucepan and fill with water until just covered. Bring to boil on high heat, reduce and let cook on medium heat until tender. Mash potatoes and let cool until luke warm. While potatoes are cooking, make sauce. Place olive oil in a medium saucepan on medium heat. Add garlic and cook for about a minute, siring continuously. Add tomatoes, salt, sugar, paprika and pepper. Stir together and cook on medium - low heat for about 15-20 mins until gravy like consistency. Stir in chopped herbs and continue to simmer on a low heat to keep warm.
To make the gnocchi, mix in flour, egg, ricotta and salt and pepper in with the potatoes and knead slightly to form a dough. Cut dough into smaller pieces and roll each piece into a 2cm round sausage/log. Cut the logs into 2 cm pieces and lightly dust with flour to avoid the gnocchi sticking together. Half fill a medium sized saucepan with salted water and bring to a gentle boil. Place gnocchi pieces into the water (you can do this in 2 batches) and cook, stirring occasionally, until gnocchi floats to the surface, about 3-5 minutes. Remove gnocchi with a slotted spoon and transfer to the pan of tomato sauce. Serve immediately with a generous sprinkling of shaved parmigiano-reggiano cheese.