Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Presto Pasta Night #30

By now you might have twigged that I'm in Italy but I haven't forgotten about Presto Pasta Night and as they seem to say on all the cooking shows, here's something I prepared earlier.

I think it's only appropriate that I make something typically Italian...but with a little twist.

Last year I posted my Gnocchi making secrets and rather than just repeat the exercise I thought I'd use those same principles but applied to a different type of potato. In this case I've chosen the highly distinctive Purple Congo.

purple congo potato

I am an avowed potato lover and though this is a gorgeous potato, I find it mealy and altogether a rather less than inspiring potato when used in dishes like salads. If looks matter more than taste, then this is for you.

Having said that, there was one thing I hadn't used it for and that was to make gnocchi - but that was until now.

Purple Congo Gnocchi

purple congo potatoes, choose those of a similar size to even out cooking time
plain flour

First off, wash the potatoes and then boil then whole until they are tender. You boil them whole so that they don't absorb the water and become soggy and boiling these potato fingers is quite a quick process.

Drain and then peel them - this should be done while there's still heat in the potato so don't wait for the potatoes to become cold.

boiled - purple congo

With the skin off you can see just how purple they really are - the colour does go right through.

Once peeled, put them through a potato ricer - this is really one tool you need to get that soft and fluffy result. If you don't have a ricer, try mashing them by hand but never ever put them in a food processor, you'll end up with potato glue.

riced potato

Yes, they do look a bit like purple Plasticine but that really is the potato.

Tip the potatoes out onto a board and grind over with some salt. I have read on occasion that people don't add salt but for me that makes no sense. Just like pasta dough, salt is essential to bring out the flavour.

The next part is the addition of flour and I make no apologies for this, but these gnocchi are egg free. In the earlier post I listed a rough guide of using at most 175 grams of flour for every 500 grams of potato. I found it very interesting that I used considerably less flour to make this dough.

The method is to use just enough flour to form a dough that is no longer sticky.

I then take portions of the dough and roll it out to form sausage shapes about the thickness of my ring finger. Once I've made all theses rolls, it's time to cut them into gnocchi.

Once again I prefer my gnocchi to be small, probably about the size of a fingernail - they need to fit easily on the tines of a fork, which is useful when it comes to the formation of that traditional ridging.

Take your fork and rest the tines onto your bench - hold it at a slight angle with the curve of the fork facing the gnocchi. The fork position is shown in the photo below.

formed gnocchi

Place a gnoccho at the base of the fork and then very gently roll it along the tines - you'll find that your fingertip will cause an indentation on one side and the tines will form the ridges on the other. This is a really quick process and you don't need to apply pressure to do this - if you do then you've probably got quite a floury mix that isn't going to give you that light result.

Once all the gnocchi have been formed, it's time to cook them!

As with all pasta, a large pot of boiling salted water is needed. When the water is rapidly boiling add in the gnocchi, stir and allow to cook. They will rise to the surface when cooked. Drain and toss them through the sauce and serve immediately.

purple congo gnocchi

For a sauce for these most colourful gnocchi I thought I needed something equally strong in colour. So I came up with a simple mix of onion, pancetta lardons and peas - those green orbs look so striking against the purple.

purple congo gnocchi

A fine grating of Parmigiano-Reggiano the final touch.

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  1. Haalo, this dish is gorgeous and so very creative of you! But i never doubted that you could come up with something like this.

    I wish I was in Italy!

  2. That purple gnocchi looks great! What an amazing colour.

  3. Italy! Hope you are having a super time. Your gnocchi are gorgeous.

  4. Super fun. Purple Dragon carrots on it would really freak people out.

  5. Haalo, this is so amazing. I love the color of the cnocchi and how it works with the finished dish.
    Enjoy your trip.

  6. These are simply stunning! I agree, purple potatoes aren't the best plain, but they are great in other regards, and I love that you paired the gnocchi with peas and carrots- so colorful!

  7. wowsa, what an unusual color! what did you think of the flavor, did are the purple Congo potatoes best suited for gnocchi?

  8. That's the most fun looking gnocchi ever!

  9. Thanks Nora, they were a most pleasant experiment.

    Thanks Kevin.

    Thanks Sara!

    Hi P - you might not see purple carrots against the purple gnocchi

    Thanks Rose - the green really sticks out against the purple.

    Thanks Mercedes!

    Hi MC - I thought they were excellent to use in making gnocchi, far better than their alternative uses. I've tended not to use them because I didn't like their texture but they've worked wonderfully here. It would be nice to do a two-tone gnocchi dish - half using purple congo and half using regular potato.

    Thanks Brilynn!

  10. OK, I'm torn ... it looks beautiful, but it also looks like somebody cut Barney the dinosaur up into little bits & mixed him with peas. :)

  11. nice! I've been there last year and I can't wait to return. Enjoy!!
    Oh, and the color of those gnocchi is gorgeous! so original!
    Have a very very nice time in Italy.

  12. I LOVE the purple gnocchi. The green peas really sets them off. Stunning pics too. Now, where can I get those purple potatoes.Hmmm..

  13. Coooool. Uncooked, they look like play dough!! Enjoy Italy!

  14. So original! i love the color!

  15. Fabulous post...great photos, terrific recipe, cool step-by-step. Who could ask for more. Thanks for sharing with Presto Pasta NIghts.

    Have fun in Italy. How long will you be there - lucky lady!?!

  16. Now that's thinking outside the box! So lovely and neat.

  17. Hi David - i see nothing wrong with cutting up barney ;)

    Thanks Sil - it's a lovely country and i hope you get back here soon!

    Thanks Ramona!

    Thanks Kevin - will do!

    Thanks Jaden!

    Thanks Ruth - i'm very lucky indeed I'll be here till the end of november.

    Thanks Butta!

  18. This dish looks absolutely beautiful! I have never made gnocchi before, but I think I may have to try it now! Have a safe and happy trip!

  19. Playdough Food! How amazing. The colour is certainly something to play with. Have a coffee for me in Italy.

  20. Thanks Sarena - I hope you give gnocchi making a go!

    Thanks Vegeyum - i'll have two coffees ;)

  21. Haalo,
    you are so creative... I ve never heard of that purple thingy, but love the color and love the fork shape. Very innovative.

  22. Looks like you only passed through Milan...if you head back through, I have a few gelaterias and places highlighted to visit! :)

  23. Hi Sara - no time for Milan in this trip though I am returning to meet up with relatives before we head off to other parts.

  24. Oh Haalo that is so beautiful!

  25. That's so cool, Haalo! I've made purple potato mash, but never purple gnocchi - such a great idea!!!

  26. Thanks Pille - they really work well for gnocchi.

  27. Haalo,
    I agree, purple congos do make excellent gnocchi (!
    I find the ratio of 1:5 for flour to potato worked well.
    you have captured the colour perfectly! WELL DONE!

  28. Thanks Li - they do have such a great colour.

  29. Hi Haalo

    I found your recipe today after I bought some purple congos from my greengrocer and was wondering what on earth to do with them. I ended up making two-tone purple congo and kipfler gnocchi, with a pea, proscuitto and sundried tomato sauce. I found that the colour was certainly interesting, but I wasn't that impressed with the congos - they were much harder to peel than the kipflers, and even after ricing they were quite lumpy - and many of them weren't purple all the way through, just on the edges. Possibly I just had inferior specimens, I'm not sure. At least now I've discovered that gnocchi is easy to make, especially with kipflers.



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