Mediterranean “Staycation” – Part 1

Today is Saint Anthony’s Day!  Apart from Christmas and Easter this is the only other religious date I remember.  Not because of religion I’m afraid, but because this is the biggest yearly event in Lisbon!  If you’ve never heard of it have a look here: https://www.visitportugal.com/en/node/210955.  We had booked holidays, but fate decided there would be no St. Anthony’s celebrations this year for reasons we all know too well now 🙁  Never has this happened in my lifetime and I hope it never happens again.

Anyway… We’re healthy and safe, so let’s focus on the positive side of things.  If this lockdown has given us anything, it definitely has to be the time to appreciate what is close to home.  We may not have other option but to enjoy a staycation for now, but there’s nothing stopping us from having a little “international” experience at home.

Given all the time and little distractions available, I decided to make gnocchi from scratch. Oh my… why have I been buying this at all???  I mean, it’s more practical to buy ready-made, but it’s so simple to make and if you’re a bit of a control-freak like me, you’ll enjoy more knowing what’s in your gnocchi. My first attempt resulted in gnocchi for 3 days – I mean, it’s just the 2 of us… but being Portuguese I always cook for a regiment 😀  I may invite Rick Stein the next time.  He’s the only chef who doesn’t intimidate me. So humble, visiting people across the world wth his little notebook, taking notes to continuously improve his own recipes. My absolute favourite!

With all that gnocchi I made two dishes: gnocchi with mushrooms & gnocchi with prawns.  Recipes below for you to give it a go 🙂

Gnocchi

INGREDIENTS

4 medium potatoes
1 egg
1 cup of flour

METHOD

Peel the potatoes and boil them for c 20 minutes. When done, drain the potatoes and let them cool slightly.

Mash the potatoes. Make a well in the centre of the potatoes and pour a whisked egg in it.  Using your hands gently mix the potatoes with the egg.  Start adding the flour to make a dough.  Knead the dough until it’s a bit firmer.

Then roll the dough with your hands over the worktop until it forms the shape of a “sausage” with roughly 2cm diametre. It may be easier to split the dough in 2 or 3.  Cut the “sausage dough” into gnocchi shapes ( this is personal preference really).  Set aside on a floured surface so the gnocchi don’t’t stick to each other or the surface they’re on.

Tomato sauce with mushrooms

1 onion finely chopped
2 garlic cloves finely chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1 bay leaf (dry)
6 chestnut mushrooms
2 carrots cut in small cubes
1 fresh tomato (chopped)
Tomato paste
1/2 a tin of chopped tomatoes
Nutmeg, oregano, cinnamon, salt and pepper

METHOD

Put a non-sticky pan on a medium heat and add the 1 tbsp of olive oil.  Add the chopped onions, garlic and bay leaf.

When the onions and garlic turn golden add the fresh tomato, the tomato paste and a pinch of salt. Add a pinch of nutmeg, oregano, cinnamon and pepper.  Stir for 2 minutes and add a bit of water it needed. Add the chopped tomatoes from the tin. Stir.

Add the mushrooms and and the chopped carrots. Let it cook for another 5  -7 minutes. Taste and add more salt if needed.

This is personal preference. You can boil the gnocchi for 2 minutes separately and then pour the mushroom sauce over it on a serving plate.  Or if you’d like the flavours to blend in with you gnocchi, simply pour the gnocchi in the pan and let it absorbe the sauce in a low heat for 2 minutes.

Tomato sauce with prawns

1 onion finely chopped
2 garlic cloves finely chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1 bay leaf (dry)
150g prawns
3 fillets of achovies
1 tomato
Tomato paste
1/2 a tin of chopped tomatoes
Peas (handful)
Nutmeg, oregano, cinnamon, salt and pepper
Fresh parsley

METHOD

Put a non-sticky pan on a medium heat and add the 1 tbsp of olive oil.  Add the chopped onions, garlic and bay leaf.

When the onions and garlic turn golden add the achovie fillets and stir.  Add the fresh tomato, the tomato paste and a pinch of salt. Add a pinch of nutmeg, oregano, cinnamon and pepper.  Stir for 2 minutes and add a bit of water it needed. Add the chopped tomatoes from the tin and the peas. Stir.

Add the prawns and let them cook until pink. Taste and add more salt if needed.

Pour the gnocchi in the pan with the sauce and let it absorbe the juices in a low heat for 2 minutes.  Put the mix on a serving plate and loosely springle chopped parsley over it. Enjoy with a chilled Prosecco! x

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