By André de Mendonça
This is a great dish if you are vegetarian – simple ingredients and if you happen to have some sage in your garden, even better. The key ingredient is mashed potato, but make it by baking your potatoes or steaming them. If you boil them you are likely to get heavy dumplings, or they will disintegrate when you are cooking them. This recipe is with sage butter but you can substitute with a tomato sauce.
For 3-4 people, so vary the ingredients accordingly:
1lb or 500g potatoes (yes, I know… but you’re never going to get a potato to weigh to the right amount)
2-4oz or 50-100g plain flour (4oz or 100g if you are steaming your potatoes – 10%-20% by weight of your potatoes)
1 large egg beaten
5 sage leaves
Peel and cook (steam) your potatoes until they are soft and meet no resistance under a sharp knife. Mash them using a potato ricer (best) or just mash them well. Add some salt and allow to cool down a bit. Add your egg once your potatoes are cool (or they’ll cook!) and mix in half the flour. Mix again, adding the remaining flour slowly until you get a soft, dryish dough. You may need more or less flour depending on the amount of moisture in your mash, but don’t add too much!
Divide the potato mix in two and roll each half on a lightly floured surface into a long sausage about an inch in diameter. With a floured knife, chop the sausage into 1 inch lengths. Do the same with the other half of the potato. You can be very Italian and roll the dumplings on the back of a fork which will give it grip for your sauce, but you don’t have to!
Drop the gnocchi (of course they are gnocchi!) in batches into plenty of boiling water. When they float, remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a clean tea towel or kitchen paper. They are good to go now, but if you plate up, fry the sage leaves in the butter, pour it over your potato gnocchi, and you’ve got yourself a fab supper. Tomato sauce with bacon and parsley is great too!