Gnocchi & Tomato Sauce – Comfort food

Today, when the sun is hiding high above the clouds, we will do some ”comfort food”, food that warm you up a little bit extra when the weather hasn’t yet decided if it’s winter or spring.

We’ll make a tomato sauce just the way I was trained to do on the first service that I had as a cook and it was at an Italian restaurant in Stockholm city.

So what distinguishes an Italian tomato sauce from, for example, the German is that in the southern variant we use fresh tomatoes, whilst the German version only uses tomato paste and pieces of smoked pancetta, water and spices to get a pure tomato sauce. Now I know that many of you may raise an eyebrow or two and say, we do not and it´s quite ok, but this was the basic Italian recipe I learned, so help yourselves as you want.

As a curiosity I add the ingredients of the German version as well so you can of course choose for yourself.

German tomato sauce

What you need:

Smoked pancetta in cubes                                                                                                                               Tomato paste                                                                                                                                                       Onion                                                                                                                                                                     Flour                                                                                                                                                                       Water                                                                                                                                                                     Salt & Pepper

Italian tomato sauce

Recipe for 4 people:

Ripe red tomatoes 1kg                                                                                                                                       Red onion 2pc of medium size (shallot is also good to use when both varieties of onions are sweeter than its larger yellow cousin                                                                                                           Garlic cloves 3pc                                                                                                                                                 Water 100 ml                                                                                                                                                       Basil a handful of leaves                                                                                                                                   Olive oil 50 ml                                                                                                                                                   Salt & Pepper

How to do it:

Put a large pot on the stove and turn on the plate on a bit higher than medium heat.  Put some salt into the water                                                                                                                                 Take a tomato and make a cross cut in the bottom of the tomato and also at the top and be aware that the cuts should be as fit so that the skin will be tinkering itself when the tomatoes boil on the stove

When the tomatoes have boiled for like 2 minutes you can see how the skin of the tomatoes loses up itself.                                                                                                                               Rinse them in cold water in a colander so you can remove the skin

Take a sharp knife and cut the tomatoes in half and cut away the tough string in the middle of the tomato, then cut it into smaller pieces.                                                                           Finely chop the onion and put in a pan on a little higher than medium heat, pour in the olive oil and fry the onion.

Pour in the tomatoes and water, stir with a wooden spoon                                                                 Take a grater and grate the garlic down (you do not peel the garlic) add the grated garlic into the simmering pan                                                                                                                                   Add the basil leaves                                                                                                                                           Reduce down the tomatoes until the pulp is juicy and spice it up with some salt and pepper and stir in 2/3 of the olive oil, seasoning

Cook the gnocchi, or if you prefer another pasta but the gnocchi with tomato sauce, in Italy a Primo, it is heaven and so easy to do

What you need:

Medium potatoes 5pc                                                                                                                                       Eggs 2pc                                                                                                                                                                 Parmesan (grated) half a cup                                                                                                                       Flour 300g                                                                                                                                                           Salt & pepper

How to do it:

Mash (squeeze) the potatoes in a bowl (it should be lukewarm)   Let the potatoes cool down further, put some salt in to it.                                                                                                                       Mix remaining ingredients (eggs, Parmesan cheese, salt & pepper)

Take the flour little by little and add more if necessary (it should be a dough that is released from the bowl and not sticky)                                                                                                       Roll out the dough into finger lengths                                                                                                       Divide the dough into pieces about 2-3cm                                                                                                 Press gently with a fork on top of the gnocchi pillows so the sauce will stuck on the potato pasta                                                                                                                                                                       Let the final product rest on a waxed paper in the refrigerator for a while

Put on a pot of water, add salt, bring to boil and lets cook the ”cushions” little by little, and they are ready when they float up (it goes very fast)

Mix the freshly cooked gnocchi into the tomato sauce, put up nicely on a plate and sprinkle some freshly grated Parmesan over the pasta, open a good bottle of wine (in my case a Barolo Serralunga 2010)

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