A hearty summer gnocchi could be just the thing to get you through a long afternoon or evening.
400g fresh gnocchi
olive oil, for frying
100g pancetta, thinly sliced
freshly grated parmesan, to serve
Tomato and basil sauce
1.5 kg very ripe vine-ripened tomatoes
100ml extra virgin olive oil
40ml red wine vinegar
2 tbsp finely chopped thyme
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 heaped tsp castor sugar
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ cup of basil leaves, finely chopped
Preheat oven to 150C.
To make the sauce, remove the cores and lightly score the bases of the tomatoes using a small, sharp knife.
Place the tomatoes in a large baking dish, base side up and drizzle with the olive oil, vinegar and thyme. Roast the tomatoes, uncovered, for about 1½ hours or until they are very soft and the skin is peeling away.
Cool slightly. Remove and discard the tomato skins. Roughly chop the flesh and add to a medium heavy-based pan with any leftover juices, as well as the garlic and sugar. Season to taste and simmer uncovered over a low-medium heat for about 30 minutes, stirring frequently until the sauce has thickened. Stir through the basil leaves and check the seasoning.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Add the gnocchi and bring to a simmer. Once cooked and floating, remove the gnocchi with a slotted spoon and drain well.
In a large non-stick pan, heat some olive oil. Pan-fry gnocchi until golden brown, being careful not to break them. Remove from pan and set aside.
To the same pan, add a splash of olive oil and fry the pancetta until crisp and golden. Drain on absorbent paper and set aside.
Divide the gnocchi between four pasta bowls, top with tomato and basil sauce, crispy pancetta, a drizzle of olive oil, freshly cracked black pepper and grated parmesan.
The tomato and basil sauce would also work nicely alongside a crumbed piece of veal or chicken.
You can use the tomato and basil sauce in an oven bake. Sear six pieces of chicken thigh fillet until browned and place in an ovenproof dish. Pour over the tomato basil sauce, and top with freshly grated mozzarella and parmesan. Serve with a simple green salad.
Take the time to make your own gnocchi. The key is, don't work the dough too hard.