This classic from Roman cooking – renowned for its “hefty” food, lling food, food that makes much out of little – has always been simple, but it’s made even simpler with the Thermomix. Gnocchi refers to any number of dumplings, and although we generally associate the word and the food with that of Italy, you’ll nd one sort or other of gnocchi across Europe and via the European diaspora.
Whatever forms into a dumpling shape can easily go by the moniker “gnoccho”, which, in a lovely twist, can also be a term of disdain – in patois, a gnoccho is an idiot. The beauty of gnocchi is in their capacity to soak and carry rich sauces.
Choose yourself the sauce that suits the need of the moment: from butter and fried sage to rich tomato, to meaty: whatever takes the fancy, or is hiding in the fridge.
1. Grate the parmesan 5 seconds/speed 8. Set aside 80 grams for the gnocchi, 50 grams for serving.
2. Prepare a baking dish, wiped with olive oil or softened butter. The final dough will be baked, then cooled, and finally served in this dish.
3. Preheat oven to 150C.
4. Cook the milk, salt and nutmeg in the bowl 2 minutes/100 degrees/speed 2.
5. Add the semolina flour and process 10 seconds/100 degrees/ speed 4.
6. Add the beaten eggs, bit by bit through the lid, 10 seconds/100 degrees/speed 4.
7. Add 80 grams of the parmesan (set aside the remaining 50 grams for serving), 5 seconds/100 degrees/speed 6.
8. Cook 5 minutes/100 degrees/speed 4. The mix is done when thickened – it should be pourable without being wet, like lava.
9. Pour into the baking dish, smoothing to the edges. Cover with foil, and bake in the oven for 20 minutes at 150C.
10. Remove, and allow to cool. This can be from 1 hour to overnight.
11. When cooled, and firm, cut into shapes – usually circular – with a biscuit cutter; square is fine, too.
12. Preheat oven to 180C.
13. Place each piece of gnocchi back into the dish, resting each piece of gnocchi on the edge of the next piece, then cover with basil, butter and a good sprinkling of your favourite melting cheese: gorgonzola, or parmesan, or for real luxury, raclette and cook for 10 - 15 minutes until the gnocchi is well cooked. Test a piece.
14. Serve with grated parmesan and more snipped herbs.
Adapted from The Classic Italian Cookbook, by Marcella Hazan (Macmillan London Limited, 1980)