Baked Potato Gnocchi with Arrabbiata Sauce

 

 

When I think of comfort food, gnocchi has to come up to the very top of my list along with ugg boots and fat pants (not foods but very comfortable). There is definitely a sensation of nurturing when making this recipe too as it has so many delicious seasonal vegetables snuck into the arrabbiata sauce.  And, as far as my endless search for finding ways towards zero waste with food, gnocchi has to be a win-win.

Gnocchi is one of my favourite ways to use up boiled potatoes, mash or jacket potatoes. Because I always-always (not an exaggeration or typo) make too much mash potatoes or boil too many spuds.  So this is an easy solution to avoiding throwing out pre-cooked potatoes.  You can also use sweet potatoes or pumpkin to make gnocchi you just have to add more flour to absorb their natural liquid (start with an extra 100 gms and add more if needed)

Don’t be put off by the length of this recipe either, the whole process should only take an hour at the most to prepare and then another 25 minutes to cook. But once you have made the dish you can freeze any extra arrabbiata sauce for another day and make the prep even faster.  The gnocchi can also be frozen if you make too much, however, I would recommend freezing it before you cook the gnocchi rather than after it has been boiled. 

For the Arrabbiata Sauce..
  • 1 medium zucchini grated
  • 6 -8 Roma tomatoes or large ripe red tomatoes
  • 1 large brown onion chopped finely
  • 3 rashes of bacon roughly chopped (optional)
  • 1 small chilli finely sliced
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 sprig of rosemary
  • 1 small bunch of basil
  • 500 ml of good stock vegetable or chicken
  • 500 ml of water
  • 250 ml of Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon of white pepper
  1. In a large heavy-based saucepan heat 20 ml of the olive oil to medium heat. Add the finely chopped onions and garlic and cook for 5 minutes.
  2. Before adding the grated zucchini, give it a squeeze over a colander to remove some of the water.  Add both the zucchini bacon and chopped tomatoes and cook for a further 5 minutes.
  3. Pour in the stock and add the salt and pepper, bay leaves, chilli and sprig of rosemary and bring vegetables to the boil then reduce the heat to a simmer.
  4. Once the sauce has reduced add the water and olive oil and cook stirring for another 10 minutes.  Or until the vegetables have cooked through and the sauce is at the desired consistency.
  5. Remove the bay leaves and rosemary and add the basil leaves and then blend with a stick mixer until smooth.  You can leave it as a chunky sauce if you prefer too.  I just blend to hide the vegetables from my kids!
For the Gnocchi..
  • 400 gm mashed potatoes 
  • 250 gm plain flour 
  • 1 egg
  • White pepper 
  • Pinch nutmeg 
  • 50 gm parmesan grated
  • ½ tsp salt 

Method

In a large bowl place plain flour (no need to sift it) If you already have mashed potato handy, measure out 400gm approx and push through a sifter so that the mash is light and finely sieved. Otherwise, boil 3-4 large potatoes and once cooled follow the above instructions.

Place the potato on to the flour and then add the egg, finely grated parmesan, nutmeg and season with salt and white pepper. 

Mix together and place onto a floured surface and knead for 5 minutes.  Divide into 4 portions and roll out the dough into a sausage shape until it is about 3 cm in width.  Chop 2-3 cm pieces and roll in the scattered flour on a bench and place in a clean, dry bowl or plate and set aside.

Put a large saucepan/pasta pan filled with water and a teaspoon of salted water and bring to the boil.

Once the water is at boiling point carefully add the gnocchi a few at a time with a slotted spoon once they are cooked they will float to the surface, allow them to float for a minute or so until they are all floating.  Drain and set aside until your sauce is ready.

For the Bechamel Sauce…
  • 50 gm of butter
  • 100 gm of plain flour
  • 500 ml of milk (full cream or reduced-fat is fine)
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 100 gms of grated parmesan cheese
  • 200 gms of mixed frozen pizza cheese or tasty cheddar (used to top the gnocchi bake when you assemble it)

In a medium saucepan melt the butter at medium heat.

Add flour and salt, continue to stir until the butter and flour are combined, continue to stir for a further 2 mins to cook the flour.

Add milk gradually and continue to stir until your sauce thickens

Add cheese and stir until combined with the sauce, set aside until you are ready to assemble the gnocchi bake.

To assemble the bake..

  1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees.
  2. Oil a baking dish generously then place a layer of the arrabbiata sauce.  Then a layer of the cooked gnocchi. Repeat this process until you have two layers of gnocchi and sauce.
  3. Gently spoon the bechamel sauce over the sauce and gnocchi and sprinkle the grated cheese over the top.
  4. Bake for 25 minutes or until the top is a little crispy and the sauce is bubbling around the sides. Sprinkle over remaining basil and serve with a fresh green salad and crusty bread.

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