This spring, the Beeb hosted the 4 part mini-series Two Greedy Italians and I was hooked…
The show followed Gennaro Contaldo and Antonio Carluccio, two chef heavy weights in the UK restaurant scene, pootling back to their Italian roots after 40 years away in a 1960’s Giulietta (that’s an old blue Alfa Romeo to us girls)…
Each of the episodes focussed on a different region and theme: festivals, family, religion and the “can’t-help-but-laugh’ banter between the chef duo made for some very funny between-recipe entertainment. Although it is clear that Gennaro is the prankster of the two, pulling an octopus out of his speedos during a fishing trip, and hilariously catering for Antonio’s blind date, he also served up some of the simplest, traditional Italian grub I have come across.
The recipe which caught my attention was the home made gnocchi. I love gnocchi, but it can be overwhelmingly filling so this lighter version made with flour and ricotta was a must try. The recipe was Gennaro’s mothers, and featured as a “Cuccina Poveria” specialty from Northern Italy. It was a perfect Friday night tea with a cold glass of Pinot Blush.
For the dumplings
200g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
1 tub ricotta
3 free-range egg yolks
30g parmesan, freshly grated
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the sauce:
6 tbsp olive oil
3 garlic cloves, peeled, cut into thick slices
1 chilli, sliced
2 x 400g/14oz cans tinned plum tomatoes, each tomato chopped in half
few basil leaves
1. Mix the flour, ricotta, egg yolks, parmesan, nutmeg and seasoning together in a large bowl to form a soft, moist dough.
2. Tip the mixture out onto a floured work surface and knead for 3-5 minutes. Roll the dough into a long, thin sausage shape, then cut into dumplings about 2cm/1in long.
3. Cook the dumplings for 3-4 minutes in a large saucepan of salted boiling water.
4. Meanwhile for the sauce, heat the olive oil in a frying pan and fry the garlic and chilli for one minute, then remove the pan from the heat and add the plum tomatoes.
5. Return the pan to the heat, bring to the boil and simmer for five minutes.
6. Remove the dumplings from the pan with a slotted spoon and add them to the tomato sauce.
7. To serve, spoon the dumplings onto a serving plate and sprinkle over the basil leaves.
All the recipes from the series can be found on BBC Food.