Russell Brown's sumptuous gnocchi with tomato sauce recipe offers sunshine on a plate, serving classic Italian flavours of mozzarella, basil and tomato for an exquisitely summery dish. If cooking for a special occasion, make the sauce the day before serving and dry out the excess tomato skins from step 4 in a 90°C oven overnight - this will add an intensely flavoured garnish to add an extra touch of glamour to the dish.
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To start the dish, make the gnocchi. Use a steam oven or traditional steamer to cook the whole potatoes until tender. Depending on the size of the potato, this should take between 45-75 minutes
300g of Maris Piper potatoes
While the potatoes are steaming, make the sauce. Wash and halve the baby plum tomatoes and warm the olive oil in a heavy-based pan. Add the tomatoes, season with salt and allow to stew gently, stirring occasionally until the tomatoes have broken down completely - this will take 45-60 minutes
500g of cherry plum tomatoes, on the vine
50ml of extra virgin olive oil, good quality
flaky sea salt
Pass the tomatoes through a sieve, pushing gently with the back of a ladle, then blitz the sauce with a hand blender to emulsify. Season to taste and set aside
flaky sea salt
When the potatoes are tender and while still warm, peel using a small sharp knife and pass the flesh through a potato ricer or mouli. Weigh out 200g of the potato and place on a clean work surface
Sift together the flour and salt, then sprinkle half over the potato. Drizzle over the egg yolk, then scatter over the remaining flour. Use a metal dough scraper to cut and mix the ingredients together, continually turning the mix over on itself. Make sure you do not over-mix, or the starches in the potato will cause the gnocchi to be rubbery
50g of pasta flour
5g of flaky sea salt, finely ground
10g of egg yolk
When the dough is evenly blended, knead briefly by hand before dividing into 4 portions. Wrap each portion in cling film to stop the mixture from drying out and forming a crust
Roll one of the dough portions out into a long sausage, measuring around 1.5cm in thickness. Cut into 1cm long pieces before rolling each piece into a ball. Form grooves onto each gnocchi using a grooved gnocchi board or the back of a large fork
Place the finished gnocchi onto a tray dusted with semolina to prevent sticking, then repeat this process with the remaining dough portions
25g of fine semolina, for dusting
To cook the gnocchi, bring a large pan of water to the boil and add a heaped tablespoon of salt. Reduce to a simmer and add the gnocchi, stirring the water as you go. When the gnocchi floats to the surface, cook for 1 more minute before removing with a slotted spoon
Transfer the gnocchi into a hot pan with a good dash of olive oil and cook to achieve an evenly golden-brown finish. Gently reheat the sauce in a separate pan and stir in the gnocchi and spinach
extra virgin olive oil, preferably Arbequina
30g of spinach, cooked
Shred the basil leaves, add to the gnocchi and season to taste. Divide the gnocchi between bowls, then add the mozzarella and toasted pine nuts. Serve immediately
flaky sea salt
8 basil leaves
160g of buffalo mozzarella, torn into pieces
20g of pine nuts, toasted
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