Homemade Fried Gnocchi with Pancetta, Pesto and Walnuts
This is great dish if you're looking for something indulgent. The gnocchi is light and delicate, then pan fried in nutmeg butter to add depth. The sauce is a wonderful combination of smoked pancetta, pesto, creme fraiche and lemon all complimenting each other to elevate the dish. Chopped walnuts and rocket are added as a final touch to add both colour and texture.
Serves - 4-6 Prep time - 1 hr cook time - 30 mins
For the Gnocchi
4 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
4 large russet or other floury potatoes (see preparation instructions below)
150g of '00' or all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
½ tsp of salt
1 large egg, beaten
100g) Parmigiano Reggiano, finely grated
3 pinches of nutmeg
For the sauce
2 tbsp of good quality pesto
75g of pancetta
1 tbsp of full fat creme fraiche
20g of parmesan (plus more for serving)
A splash of pasta water
20g of walnuts
1/2 a lemon juiced
1. Halve the potatoes crosswise and add them to a pot of well-salted cold water. Bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes are tender and easily pierced with a knife, about 25 minutes.
2. Drain the potatoes thoroughly. When they’re cool enough to handle but still warm, remove the skins (they should peel right off!). Pass them through a potato ricer or gently mash them with a potato masher or fork.
3. Spread the potatoes out on a paper towel-lined baking sheet so all the steam can evaporate and allow them to cool completely. Pat them dry with more paper towels to remove any excess moisture before using.
4. Add the flour to a large mixing bowl and, with your fingers, make a large hole in the centre of the flour. Add half of the potatoes, half the egg, half the cheese, and a dash of nutmeg to the well. Follow with the remaining potatoes, egg, cheese, and another dash of nutmeg. Scoop the flour from the bottom of the bowl and gently mix everything together until just combined. Transfer the shaggy mass to a wooden surface and knead very lightly until everything is generally evenly incorporated, no more than a minute (the mixture should be together but not smooth).
5. Cut the dough into four or five pieces. Dust each piece with flour and gently roll into a thick rope, about an inch in diameter, then cut the rope into pillows of desired size.
6. Transfer gnocchi to a baking tray lined with parchment paper and a light dusting of flour. Cook the gnocchi immediately in well-salted boiling water until they float. Remove from the water and leave to the side (saving some of the pasta water).
For the Sauce
7. Place the pancetta in a non stick small pan on a medium/ high heat and cook for 3/5 minutes until crispy.
8. In the meantime, in a large frying pan, add 1 large knob of butter, 2 tbsp of olive oil and a splash of nutmeg. Fry on a medium/high heat until melted, then add the gnocchi.
9. Cook the gnocchi on each side undisturbed for around 3-5 minutes.
10. Whilst frying your gnocchi, check on the pancetta. Once it has become crispy, add two tbsp of pesto, 20g of parmesan, 1 tbsp of creme fraiche a generous helping of cracked black pepper, a tbsp of pasta water and lemon juice, stir and simmer for 2 minutes.
11. Once the gnocchi has cooked on both sides, pour the sauce over gnocchi and gently coat each piece.
12. On a plate, scatter some rocket, sprinkle the chopped nuts, place the gnocchi on top, finish with more nuts and a grating of parmesan.