Suppers really don’t get much easier than this – and it’s quick too. Good quality fresh gnocchi is available in most supermarkets these days, to be found refrigerated alongside the fresh pasta or vacuum-packed among the dried pastas.
It takes only two minutes to cook and is very obliging in that department, bobbing up to the top of the pan as if by magic, when ready.
In this recipe the gnocchi, basking in its delicious, savoury sauce, is turned into a gratin by spooning into an ovenproof dish, sprinkling with cheese and cooking in the oven until the topping is golden brown and bubbling.
However, quicker still and to save turning on the oven, ditch the gratin bit if you like.
Apart from the lovely cheesy topping, another advantage of a gratin is that you can make the recipe entirely in advance and just pop it in the oven to reheat when required.
Gnocchi is very inexpensive and you can make pretty much any sauce you like to go with it. Likewise, there are many other ingredients you can add.
I have suggested bacon and spinach here but add whatever you have to hand – sliced mushrooms, celery, red peppers etc, all of which would need frying before adding to the sauce ingredients in the same way the bacon is in the recipe. Ham cut into strips would also be good.
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RECIPE OF THE WEEK: Gnocchi with bacon, blue cheese, spring onions & spinach (Serves 2-3)
1 packet of lardons or 6 rashers of bacon, snipped
4oz/110g creamy blue cheese such as Gorgonzola or Dolcelatte
3 heaped tbsp creme fraiche
4oz/110g baby spinach leaves (optional)
500g pack of gnocchi
2 large spring onions, finely chopped
Freshly grated Doddington or Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas7. Put a large pan of salted water on the heat to boil.
2. Meanwhile, in a smaller saucepan fry the bacon bits until they are beginning to turn golden brown. Crumble the cheese into the pan, add the creme fraiche and heat gently, stirring, to a smooth, creamy sauce.
Add the spinach, a handful at a time, and stir until just wilted.
3. Add the gnocchi to the pan of boiling water and cook until they bob up to the surface. This will only take a few minutes. Drain and add them to the sauce.
4. Stir everything together well, pour into a gratin dish, scatter the spring onions over the top and finish with a sprinkling of grated Doddington or Parmesan cheese.
5. Cook in the oven until golden brown and bubbling.
TIP: The gnocchi can be made in advance up until the end of step 4 and then, when required, reheated for about 20 minutes.
This is very good served with sharp, crisp salad leaves such as chicory, cos, watercress and rocket. Walnuts would also be a nice addition.
The dressing should be a sharp, plain vinaigrette, perhaps with a dash of walnut oil added.
JANE’S TOP TIPS
This week, buying and ripening avocados.
At a supermarket checkout last week the friendly student on the till was astounded that I was buying rock-solid avocados.
Having explained my reasoning to him, he said he was thrilled with the tip – so I hope that you might find it useful too.
I think buying unripe avocados is the best bet as the ones that do yield a little, in my experience, have been pressed and prodded by so many fingers they are bruised all over, causing the flesh within to blacken, rendering them inedible.
Unripe avocados left in a fruit bowl will ripen over a few days, depending on the room temperature.
Store them in the fridge when ready to halt the ripening, where they will last for several weeks.