I'd like to introduce you to my friend, who goes by the extremely cool name of AC. At least, she did ten years ago when we met in Mexico and she casually kicked my ass for two straight weeks at that most levelling of card games, Shithead, without ever having to remove her sunglasses or put down her cigarette.
(N.B. I doubt she smokes anymore, but we all did then because we were on holiday.)
We've been back in touch because she's a friendly sort, is AC. And she really, really knows how to cook. I've never eaten anything she's made but I can tell she knows what she's talking about because when I mentioned that I was going to attempt gazpacho for the first time she rattled off, off the top of her head, about eighteen different cold soups she's made, which is best, which is worst - this one's nice with Cloudy Bay - that kind of thing.
And I'm like, what the fuck have I been doing with my time? I have never even made one cold soup, let alone enough to have a conversation about them.
So my point is, she's a cooking machine and she's got a proper job and everything, at a company so serious that you're not allowed to send swear words over email, so my emails to her are about 50% shorter than they are to everyone else.
Today she suggested a great spinach gnocchi, which I was going to make but frankly, I trust AC, who says that usually she's not crazy about gnocchi but these are "very light and fragrant and summery". Apologies for no picture with this but I can only imagine that, like everything AC does, they are kick-ass.
So here we go: Spinach gnocchi sourced from Ginger Jar Food
Serves 3 to 4 with crusty bread
For the gnocchi
500g floury potatoes - cooked in salted water and well drained
110g OO flour (or you can use plain flour)
200g spinach - de-stalked, cooked, squeezed dry with your hands then blotted some more on kitchen paper, and finally, finely chopped!
1 egg - lightly beaten
For the tomato sauce
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 can of good chopped tomatoes
A handful of basil leaves, chopped
Chilli flavoured olive oil - or normal if you don't like heat
Salt & pepper
A ball of good buffalo mozzarella
1. First make the gnocchi. Take your cooked potato and load it into a potato ricer. Hold the potato ricer high above a clean work surface and squeeze the potato through, allowing it to fall in a light pile.
2. In between your batches of potato, sieve a layer of flour and add a sprinkle of the chopped spinach, then another squeeze of potato until it's all done.
3. Now make a well in the centre of your spinachy, floury, potato-y pile, and pour in your beaten egg. Flick some of the dry ingredients over the egg and start to work the dough together until all the ingredients are evenly incorporated. If the dough feels too wet and is really sticking to your hands, add a little more flour.
4. Divide the dough into four and roll each one out into a long sausage about 3 cm thick. Cut the sausage into gnocchi-sized pieces (like a small pebble) and roll each one in your hand to make a small oval shape. For authenticity more than anything you can then roll each gnocchi down the tines of a fork to create the classic ridges.
5. Set the gnocchi to one side on a floured baking tray (so they don't stick together) until ready to cook them. Resting them before cooking will also help the gluten relax a little, making them less heavy.
6. To make the sauce, cook your garlic briefly in a little chilli oil (or standard oil), then add your chopped tomatoes, basil and salt, and pepper and allow to simmer away for around 20 mins until slightly reduced and thickened. Check the seasoning.
7. To cook the gnocchi, place them in a large pan of heavily salted water. They tend to tell you when they are ready by floating to the surface, but give them a stir to make sure they aren't stuck to the bottom (or each other) and drain after a couple of minutes. They should expand slightly when cooked and become really soft and pillowy.
8. Drain well and toss in your tomato sauce. Divide between your serving bowls and tear off pieces of the buffalo mozzarella to dot around the dish. Sprinkle some parmesan over the top, add a few more basil leaves to garnish, and then serve immediately!