Baked gnocchi with cream, mushrooms and blue cheese sauce
NUTRITION: PER SERVING
FAT: 30.1G (17.8G SATURATED)
CARBOHYDRATES: 64.4G (5.9G SUGARS)
100g rock salt
1kg floury potatoes, such as king edward or maris piper, unpeeled
2 large free-range egg yolks
180g type ‘00’ flour (often sold as pasta flour), plus extra
40g parmesan (or vegetarian alternative), finely grated
4 tbsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped
1 tsp salt
For the sauce
260g young leaf spinach
Butter for frying
1 onion, finely sliced
400g chestnut mushrooms, thickly sliced
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tbsp plain flour
150ml whole milk, plus an extra splash (optional)
150ml double cream
9 fresh thyme sprigs, 3 whole, 6 with leaves picked
150g creamy blue cheese such as gorgonzola dolce or vegetarian stilton, crumbled
You’ll also need…
20cm square, 6cm deep baking dish
Heat the oven to 220°C/200°C fan/gas 7. Sprinkle 100g rock salt onto a large baking tray and put the potatoes on top. Lightly prick them with a fork, then bake in the oven for 60-75 minutes until crisp on the outside and tender inside. (This may take more or less time depending on the size of the potatoes.) Remove from the baking tray and set aside for 15 minutes to cool.
Holding each potato with a cloth in one hand, peel off the skins (discard). Push the peeled potatoes through a ricer into a large mixing bowl or work them through a fine metal sieve with a wooden spoon – they need to be very finely mashed, so a normal potato masher won’t do. Add the egg yolks, flour, parmesan or alternative, thyme and salt, then mix well until combined – it will look dry at first, but keep going and it will come together into a ball. Separate the dough into 4 equal pieces.
Turn the oven down to 200°C/ 180°C fan/gas 6. Line 2 baking sheets with non-stick baking paper. On a lightly floured surface, use your hands to roll out each piece of dough into a long sausage, about 1.5cm thick. Using a sharp knife, cut each sausage into 18-20 x 3cm pieces. Put the gnocchi onto the prepared baking sheets and cover with a damp tea towel.
Put the spinach into a large colander and pour over a full kettle of boiling water to wilt. Press out excess water using the back of a spoon.
Heat a knob of butter in a large saucepan over a medium-high heat and fry the onion for 5-6 minutes until starting to soften. Remove from the pan, then add the mushrooms. Turn up the heat and fry, without stirring, for 2-3 minutes until well coloured on one side. Give the mushrooms a stir and repeat until they’re browned and tender.
Turn down the heat, add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1-2 minutes until it smells fragrant and cooked – but don’t let the garlic brown. Return the onions to the pan, add the 2 tbsp flour and fry, stirring, for 2 minutes. Pour in the milk and cream, then stir as it warms. It should soon thicken into a creamy white sauce. If it’s too thick, stir in another splash of milk. Set aside.
Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil, add the gnocchi and cook for 30 seconds or until they float to the surface. Once cooked, drain well and mix into the set-aside creamy mushrooms along with the wilted spinach, thyme leaves and most of the blue cheese.
Pour the gnocchi and sauce into the baking dish, then dot the rest of the cheese on top along with the whole thyme sprigs. Bake for 20 minutes until golden and bubbling, then serve immediately with a bitter salad.
If you’re short on time, buy good quality gnocchi and start at step 4. Cook the gnocchi in step 7 according to the packet instructions.
The gnocchi dough will keep overnight in the fridge, tightly wrapped in cling film.