Making the perfect gnocchi is a lot easier than it seems and the final result never fails to impress, especially with the added beetroot giving that beautiful pink colour to the final dish. The trick to the prefect chewiness is to find the balance between the moisture and the flour. If pushed for time, the potatoes and beetroot can be boiled to soften but slow baking over salt will result in a less chewier gnocchi and leave you with light pillows of air. Once you have the technique down, the gnocchi can be tossed with any sauce or dressing you like. Here, I have pan fried them in sage to give a crispy, buttery caramelised edge and finally coated in a creamy gorgonzola sauce.
For the gnocchi:
100g beetroot puree
500g floury potatoes, maris piper or king Edward
Coarse sea salt
200g 00 pasta flour, extra for dusting
1 egg, lightly beaten
Salt, freshly ground black pepper
For the sauce:
25g walnuts, roughly chopped
1 small bunch of fresh sage, leaves only
Malden sea salt flakes
1. Preheat the oven and to 200C and place the beetroots and potatoes skin on in a roasting tray lined with salt and bake for about 1 hour until softened through and the skins easily come away from the flesh. The salt will absorb any moisture released from the veg, meaning less flour will be needed later giving a lighter final result.
2. Ideally while still warm, remove the skins from the potatoes and push them through a fine sieve or mash well until really smooth.
3. Remove the skins from the beetroots and place in a blender, until you have a fine puree.
4. Fold the puree through the mashed potatoes then mix in the ricotta and season well with salt and pepper.
5. Add half the flour and make a well in the centre. Add the beaten egg and start to combine until you have a thick dough, you can then bring the dough together with floured hands but be careful not to overwork the mixture. If it still seems too wet and sticky, then add a little more flour until you have a soft dough.
6. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Cut the dough in half and shape each half into a long square cylinder shape. Evenly slice the cylinder in to 2cm pieces and gently press in the centre of each one with your finger to make a light indent (this will help it to hold more sauce).
7. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil, and with a slotted spoon carefully lower the gnocchi into the pan and simmer in batches for 1-2 minutes until they rise up to the surface. Drain the gnocchi and let them steam dry before tossing them in a little olive oil to stop them sticking.
8. Start to make the sauce. In a separate frying pan, toast the walnut pieces dry for a few minutes until fragrant and beginning to char. Add the butter until it starts to foam, then toss in the gnocchi to slightly crisp up and colour. Add the sage leaves and stir these through to soften slightly and release their flavour. Take off the heat and finally stir through the gorgonzola as it starts to melt and coat the gnocchi. Use a slotted spoon to transfer to a plate and serve.