Mushroom,Broccoli and Pancetta Gnocchi

Pan fried gnocchi, crunchy broccoli, earthy mushrooms, parsley and Parmesan. Simple, easy, amazing.

We were given another opportunity to pan fry gnocchi. This time we nailed it. There was a slight crispness to the outside with a warm almost fluffy inside. There were few ingredients to this dish but all the ingredients were fresh, full of flavour and combined perfectly. There is an ongoing debate about fresh and frozen vegetables. Some say fresh is better because, well.. its fresh others say that frozen is fresher as it is frozen quickly which locks in all the nutrients and the fresh stuff is already days old by the time it hits the shelves, let alone your plate. Well, personally I think fresh tastes so much nicer, something is lost in the freezing or thawing process for me. And if you have a good market near you or better still grow your own then there really is no question.

Let’s talk fungus, chestnut mushrooms and the common mushroom or button mushroom are actually the same just a different strain. Although broccoli and Kale are different strains of the same thing and we all know how different they are. When the chestnut mushroom matures it grows into what we know as the portobello mushroom. I can only assume the button mushroom is never allowed to mature as we eat so many of them. The chestnut has a stronger flavour than the button, much richer and earthier. It’s the equivalent between farmed meat and game meat.

This recipe used chestnut mushrooms thankfully as I think the humble button would have been lost. A plants worth of parsley really brings out the flavours of the other ingredients and the Parmesan does what only Parmesan can.

Learning about my food… Gnocchi

Gnocchi like many foods has murky beginnings and like a Chinese whisper it’s variations spread far and wide till it altogether becomes impossible to track it’s true origin and design. The word gnocchi is thought to come from the word “nocca” which means knuckles or maybe from the word “knohha” meaning knot, like in wood. 

We know Gnocchi is inherently Italian and was introduced by the Romans. It is thought maybe from the Middle East. Then each area infused there own ideas into it wether from experimentation or necessity of ingredients. For instance, northern Italy’s climate allowed better crops of potatoes over grain so more potatoes were added. It was a great inexpensive food for the masses much like polenta and risotto which also herald from this part. Like subtle differences in a regions accent the recipe would change. Some regions would use squash and other vegetables instead of potato or a ratio of each.  Some would call for a layer of cheese and then be baked in the oven, another a dressing of butter and Parmesan, Verona still serves theirs with a tomato sauce. Like they have done since the 1500’s during their carnival.

The gnocchi we know is usually a potato base. Potatoes are boiled and mashed then mixed with flour. It is then formed into little dumplings either by rolling the dough into a long sausage and then cut into inch or so pieces or just formed individually. Either way they are then given grooves or scores using a fork or grater. These grooves are what makes the gnocchi great as its these grooves that hold the sauce.

Jamie’s sausage gnocchi with broccoli and tomato

This is not my recipe. This recipe came with our Hello Fresh box.

Follow the link to the recipe on their website 

An admission, I thought gnocchi was a type of pasta. Even after tasting it I couldn’t tell you what it was. It’s like a small dumpling that doesn’t really have too much flavour (at least not the ones we had, I’m sure you can them with herbs and spices mixed into them) I have since read that the grooves made in them make them great vessels for sauces. This is what it did with this dish. It’s the second time we have had gnocchi and I preferred it this time. The first dish fried it in a pan and it came out quite rubbery. This time we boiled it and it turned out much better. 

Once again the quality of the ingredients shone through with the sausage. I loved the fact we didn’t chop the Rosemary which gave it a real burst of flavour when you got a peace. Then behind it all you get the subtle flavour of the fennel seeds and as if it were actually trying to comfort you the chilli warms you through with every bite.