Cacio e pepe gnocchi with parmesan crisps

Cacio e pepe (cheese and pepper) gnocchi with cacio e pepe crisps.
Cacio e pepe (cheese and pepper) gnocchi with cacio e pepe crisps. Photo: Katrina Meynink
Difficulty
Easy
Dietary
Vegetarian

The parmesan crisps add textural relief to the soft pillows of gnocchi. The quick bake in the oven intensifies the cheese's salty profile, taking this from bowl of Sunday night comfort to "dressed for dinner" and back again, as required. If time-poor, use 500 grams of quality gnocchi from your local deli for a spectacularly quick dinner fix.

Ingredients

Parmesan crisps

good quality parmesan

freshly cracked pepper

Gnocchi

700g floury potatoes, peeled and halved (I used nicola)

1 tbsp butter

1 tbsp finely grated parmesan

100g plain flour, plus extra for dusting

Sauce

½ cup water

½ tbsp olive oil

100g parmesan

75g pecorino

freshly cracked pepper

Method

1. For the parmesan crisps, preheat the oven with top grill function to 160C. Line a baking tray with baking paper.

2. Using a Microplane, gently grate parmesan onto the baking paper, and shape into circles about the size of an egg ring. Don't worry about perfectly shaped circles – the cheese should be evenly spread in a thin layer. Season generously with pepper. Place in the oven for five to seven minutes or until crisp and lightly coloured.

3. Remove from the oven and allow the crisps to cool on the tray completely. Set aside until ready to serve. (Crisps will keep in an airtight container for one to two days but are best eaten the day they are made.)

4. For the gnocchi, boil potatoes from a cold start in a large saucepan of salted water until you can pierce them with a knife, but they are not so over-boiled that they lose their shape and fall apart. Drain and immediately return them to the saucepan, and then to the heat, to steam off any residual liquid – about another minute.

5. Pass the potatoes through a mouli or sieve into a bowl. Add the butter and parmesan and stir gently. Add flour, season, then gently bring together. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until it just comes together. Divide dough into four even pieces and lightly roll each piece into a 2cm-thick log. Cut logs into 3cm pieces and place on a lightly floured tray.

6. Cook gnocchi in batches in a large saucepan of rapidly simmering salted water until they just float to the surface (about four minutes) – don't overcook the gnocchi at this point as it will continue to cook in the next step. Remove the gnocchi with a slotted spoon and place directly into a large frypan (don't worry about straining thoroughly, you want a little residual liquid) with the water, oil, parmesan and pecorino. Cook over medium heat until the liquid has mostly evaporated, and the cheese has melted – the gnocchi should be just coated, not drowned in sauce. Season very generously with pepper.

7. Gently spoon onto serving plates and top with parmesan crisps. Season with extra grated parmesan and cracked pepper.