Gluten Free Spinach and Potato Gnocchi with Creamy Salmon, Dill & Lemon sauce.
Serves: 6 hungry boys or a dinner party for 8 (simply halve the ingredients for a serving of 4 people). Keep in mind the gnocchi is great once chilled overnight (or frozen if your all gnocchi’d out) so you can always make too much and save for la’ers.
For the Gnocchi:
1.5kg of starchy potatoes*
200g baby spinach- chopped into fine ribbons
3 spring onions, stem to tip, sliced finely
1 cup potato flour, extra potato flour for rolling and kneading
1 cup sweet rice flour (different to normal rice flour)
60g Parmesan, finely grated
3 eggs, lightly whisked (whisk these one by one, you may not need them all)
For the Sauce:
1 Tbsp. virgin olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, crushed or diced finely
3 spring onions, stem to tip, finely sliced
200ml Cream (more if the sauce is not saucy enough)
200ml crème fraiche
500g smoked salmon, peeled carefully into thin slices and broken into 2cm pieces
Peas, frozen 1½ cups, left to thaw
Parsley, enough to season
3/4 of a bag of dill, leaves pulled from the stem
1 lemon, zest and 1/2 the juice
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Peel, wash and roughly dice the potatoes into 2cm cubes. Have a steamer (with lid) pumping and add the potatoes, steam until mashable. About 10-15 mins depending on the size of the pot.
2. Meanwhile sauté the spinach and garlic in a pan, with enough oil to stop the spinach from sticking, be careful not to pump the heat to high, nothing worse than burnt garlic and we want this spinach to be soft and tender.
3. When both potato and spinach are cooked, set them aside to cool down so you can start working with them. About 10-15 mins should do it.
4. By this stage I like to get my ingredients prepared for the sauce, as the gnocchi shaping takes a bit of faffing about. SO! Slice those shallots, get your peas out of the freezer and measured, prepare the salmon, dill and parsley, don’t forget to ‘de-zest’ your lemon and have the fruit ready to be squeezed straight into the pan.
5. By now your potato and spinach should be cool enough to play with. I suggest squishing as much juice out of the spinach as possible, then go to town on it with a knife! Aim is to break up the leaves as much as possible so that all the delicious green will mix into the potatoes colouring them into beautiful speckly carbs, NOM!
Next step is to knead, punch and shape your gnocchi! Lets get physical (lycra not essential but encouraged).
6. Mash the potatoes until smooth, if you have a potato ricer even better! Make a well in the mash, and throw 2 whisked eggs right in there (the extra one is for damage control).
7. Put in spinach mixture, parmesan and flours then use your hands to work this mixture, kneading, punching and squishing until you have a tacky and firm gnocchi mixture. If your mixture feels dry and the ingredients didn’t ply together simply add 1/2 a egg at a time until they do.
8. Now you’ll need a cleared bench, dusted with potato flour (I didn’t like the idea of using the sweet rice flour as I imagine it creates a tacky shell on the gnocchi).
9. Divide the mixture into 4 firmly packed balls, make sure to rub a little flour on your hands to avoid TOO much mess, then take 1 ball at a time and roll it out on the bench top. You may need to break this mixture in half as you roll it out if you find it getting out of control. Once you have a long roll (the way you made snakes from playdoh as a kid) about the diameter of a 10p coin, its time to cut small 2cm long piece from the roll. From here you can shape the gnocchi 1 of two ways (or a combination if you so wish)
Option A: you can roll the balls in your hands to form large marbles and then score them with a fork to create a corrugated look on one side, Do this by rolling them along the back of the prongs of the fork, this requires patience and some practice.
Option B: You can loosely roll the piece into a rough ball shape on the bench top and then ‘tap’ the ball with the tip of your thumb creating a little well in the centre of the gnocchi- this acts as a delicious well for the sauce!
Repeat this for all of your gnocchi mixture and set in the fridge before boiling for serving. Least a 20cm diameter pot is needed for this amount of gnocchi (even then doing the boiling in 2 batches is recommended)
Now is the time to get your water on for the gnocchi. Get a large pot, the larger the better as you can do bigger batches and then nobody has to wait for their dinner, don’t make the mistake of overcrowding though, you don’t want the little guys to stick together.
Now for the saucy part…
1. Start by heating the oil in a large heavy pan; add spring onions, garlic and lemon zest and sauté lightly until just soft.
2. From here add both creams, the peas, and the parmesan to the pan and reduce the heat to a simmer. Don’t let the cream mixture boil as the sauce needs to be and luscious, not gluggy.
3. Let the sauce slowly bubble away until you can smell the lemon coming out of the steam and the peas have turned a bright green.
At this point you’re going to have to learn to multitask (nothing sinister just a bit of coordinating)
4. Put your first half of the gnocchi into the boiling water, you will know the gnocchi is cooked when all the lovely parcels have floated to the top of the pot, remove them straight away so they don’t get waterlogged and squishy.
5. As you do this, mix your dill, parsley and salmon into the simmering sauce and remove from the heat. We want the flavour’s to combine but we don’t want the dill to wilt or the salmon to overcook.
The gnocchi should have taken about 2-3min to come to the surface, now ladle the gnocchi out into a serving dish with as little water as possible in there and proceed to cook the rest of the gnocchis.
At this stage check your sauce for seasoning, does it need more tang? Add a touch more lemon juice. Is it flat to your tasting? Bit more parmesan! Not earthy enough? Add a kick of parsley or even the finely sliced stem of 1 spring onion. Then salt or cracked pepper to taste, be gentle, people can always add more to their own plates.
Now your gnocchi should be cooked, add it to the other batch, spoon over your delicious sauce. Garnish with a sprig of dill, parmesan and cracked pepper on the table and we are famished!
Et, Voila let the gnoccis snuggle down into your belly and sink into your fluffy gluten free food coma.
*On a side note I found this tip afterwards when writing up the recipe: To achieve the lightness required, the potatoes should be prepared so they absorb the least amount of liquid: the older the potatoes, the better for the gnocchi, because they have less liquid-absorbing starch. Potatoes with “eyes” popping out of the skin are the ideal. They should be peeled while still very hot, without running any water over them, then riced and left to become cold before mixing in the flour, as the cold potatoes will absorb less flour than when warm or even lukewarm.
Realising now that if you’re the kind of person, like me, who only reads recipes as you go you will have missed this the first time too… best prank ever! Sorry Guys. Also not sure about the older ‘less starchy’ potatoes as from all accounts I thought that starch for gnocci was a good thing, this may take some tinkering with.