17 December 2017

Plate Up. Traditional Gnocchetti Spatzl

My heritage on my mum's side is Italian; northern Italian that is, right up near the border of Austria. A little town called Trento. As fate would have it, one of my best friends who I met in London in 2014 is also from the same region. She comes from Merano, a quaint village merely 30mins drive from Trento.

I've been lucky enough to visit the region twice now, most recently this year. Every time I go, I spend the weekend with her family, eating possibly the best [and largest amount of] food in my life. Last time I was in town, this little dish was on the menu.

Traditional of the region, gnocchetti spatzl is kind of like a cross between Italian and Austrian/German food. I suppose they're a bit like pasta dumplings and let me tell you, they are delicious. I've made them a lot since I came home and it's a great feeling to know it's a dish that my ancestors would have enjoyed too.

What you'll need
200g baby spinach
2 eggs
1½ cups plain flour
200g panchetta
1 punnet cherry tomatoes
100g ricotta
fresh basil
olive oil
parmesan cheese

What to do
Blanche your spinach leaves and drain well, being sure to squeeze them dry. Take a food processor and pop the spinach in with the eggs and blitz together. Next, sift in the flour and season with salt and pepper. Add a little cold water and blitz to create a wet, sticky, batter-like dough. If it seems too stiff add a little more water, or if it seems to loose add a little more flour.

Time to prepare your accompaniments. I think many things can work with gnocchetti; pesto with sundried tomatoes, parmesan with pumpkin and black pepper, roasted salmon with asparagus... This time I went for panchetta, tomatoes, ricotta and basil.

Pop your panchetta in the pan and fry until golden. Give your tomatoes a quick toss in the hot oil, then set it all aside.

Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil and prepare your gnocchetti maker. (I bought mine in Italy but good ol' Amazon has them in stock.) If you don't have one you can also use a spoon to drop little pieces into the water. A tad fiddly, but it will work too.

Once the water is on a rolling boil, start making your little gnocchetti, dropping them into the water. Allow to cook for 3-4mins or until they taste al dente. Drain and serve with panchetta, tomatoes, basil, ricotta and a generous grating of fresh parmesan.

Buon appetito!

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Photos via retailers.