Basil potato gnocchi with roasted exotic tomatoes

I got very excited last week about the Woolworths Exotic tomatoes that I found at my local Woolworths Food.  Not only were they incredibly pretty, but tasty as well.  I used them in my Mixed Tomato, basil and pea garden salad, which was very popular, and decided that they would also be perfect for #meatfreemonday. So, with little further ado, here is my recipe for potato gnocchi with roasted exotic tomatoes.

This recipe gives 3-4 portions:

Potato gnocchi:

3 medium to large potatoes, cooked and skins removed

1 scant cup flour, sifted

1 egg

Salt to taste

Once the potatoes are cooled, mash it very finely but do not use a blender. Add the egg and salt and mix well with a spoon.  Add the flour to the potato mixture and gently mix through (you do not want to over mix in order to keep the gnocchi light and fluffy). Once the flour has been incorporated, remove a handful, and gently role it into a sausage shape on a lightly floured surface.  Cut 1 cm pieces off the potato sausage (they should be shaped like little pillows), and lightly press with a fork.  Once you have made all the gnocchi, bring a pot of water to boil on the stove and add the gnocchi to the boiling water. As soon as the gnocchi floats to the surface, they are ready and can be removed with a slotted spoon and place in a colander in order to drain any excess water.  Set aside.

Roasted tomatoes:

1 green tomato (a specific type of tomato, not an unripe red tomato), cut into wedges

2 pink tomato, cut into wedges and halved

handful vine-ripened tomatoes, halved

1 tablespoon olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsuis.  Toss the tomatoes with the olive oil, salt and pepper and place on a roasting tray.  Place in the oven and roast for 20 minutes or until done.  Remove for the oven and set aside.

Dish assembly:

2 tablespoons fresh, finely chopped basil

1 tablespoon olive oil

cooked gnocchi

roasted tomatoes

Heat a dash of olive oil in a pan.  Add the gnocchi, and fry for 3-5 minutes. Add the basil and fry for another 2-3 minutes. Remove form the heat, and add the tomatoes. Toss lightly and serve. I served my gnocchi with freshly grated parmesan.

Bolognaise filled pancakes topped with a creamy white sauce

The heat has finally broken in Cape Town, and made way for rolling mist from the sea and cloudy, cooler weather. It really is a great change, and I look forward to getting out and about in my veggie garden today. With the cooler weather (and on my beau’s insistence, with dessert in mind), I decided on pancakes filled with a basil bolognaise sauce, drizzled with a creamy white sauce and topped with white Gouda and parmesan for dinner. The end result-creamy, crispy and filling! This recipe gives 4 large portions (2 pancakes per portion).

This pancake recipe is also my gran’s recipe.  I remember calling her just after I went to varsity, short on money, and in dire need of some cinnamony reassurance.  This is the recipe she gave me, and I still have the same hand-written note pinned on my fridge today. This recipe gives 20 thin pancakes and 13-15 thick and thin pancakes (If used for filling, I make thick pancakes). I made 8 thick pancakes for the savoury filling and the rest I used for a cinnamon filling.

Pancakes:

2 1/2 cups water

2 eggs

30 ml white spirit vinegar

63 ml cooking or olive oil

2 cups flour, sifted

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 ml salt

Whisk all the wet ingredients together, before sifting in the dry ingredients.  Whisk everything together until there are no more lumps present.  Let the batter rest for 30 minutes before frying the pancakes in a non stick pan lightly coated with oil. Again, if I want to fill and bake the pancakes afterwards, I make thicker pancakes, but if I want to cover them with cinnamon sugar I make thin pancakes.  The pancake is ready to flip once all the sides have curled inward (about 5-8 minutes after pouring the batter). Flip over once, and allow to brown for another 2 minutes before removing from the pan. Set aside. If you are making cinnamon pancakes, cover them with sugar and cinnamon after removing from the pan. For the savoury pancakes, do not add any cinnamon or sugar. Reduce the crispiness by placing them on top of each other as the come out of the pan; this will help with the rolling later. Set aside.

Bolognaise sauce:

200-250 grams lean mince

1 brown onion, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1 tin tomato paste (70 grams)

1 can whole peeled tomatoes or cherry tomatoes (I use cherry)

5-6 leafs fresh basil, finely chopped

2-3 sprigs parsley, finely chopped

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon ground coriander

salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup water

1 carrot, very finely grated

Heat a dash of olive oil in a large pot, and sauté the garlic and onions for 5-6 minutes .  Add the cumin and coriander and saute for another 2-3 minutes. Add the mince and brown for aproximately 8-10 minutes, before adding the tomato paste. Stir in, then add the carrot, canned tomato and water. Allow to simmer over a low temp for 30-40 minutes or until most of the fluid has reduced. Add the fresh herbs, stir through and simmer for another 5-10 minutes before removing it form the heat. Add salt and pepper to taste and set aside.

White sauce:

2-3 tablespoons butter

2 heaped tablespoons flour

1 1/2 cup milk

salt to taste

Melt the butter in a small pot over low heat. Add the flour, and stir in. I use a whisk to ensure a smooth roux (flour butter mix). Slowly stir in the milk whilst whisking, and allow to thicken for a couple of minutes. If the sauce is to thick, add another dash of milk.  I made a thick sauce for this recipe, because I did not want to cover the pancakes completely. Once thickened, set aside.

Assembly of pancakes:

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Starting from the top of your pile of pancakes, add two to three tablespoons of the bolognaise sauce along the length of the pancake towards the edge. Lightly roll the pancake to ensure that the filling is in the middle. Place in a prepared baking dish. Do the same for the rest of the pancakes. Once all the pancakes are filled, and in the baking dish, drizzle with white sauce and cover with mozzarella or a hard white cheese such as Gouda and parmesan ( I used a combination of the latter). Place in the oven and bake until golden brown.

I served this with a small green salad. Although this recipe is labour intensive, it is delicious and absolutely worth the effort if you have time.  A perfect slow-food meal for the weekend if it is cold and rainy outside.