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What prompted this week's recipe? Well, every few weeks I get together with a group of friends for an 'International Night' which may actually be a dinner or lunch party. So the host is not left to do all the work and we never know how many are going to turn up, (the group comprises over twenty) everyone brings a dish from a particular country. These are then placed on the table(s) all at once and we share. Not ones to rush our food, we sit and enjoy, chat, consume, savour the good food and company for hours on end. During this time we then set the date, the place and the country for the next time, the latter is decided by picking out of a hat . . . try it with your friends, its fun. Do let me know how you go though and I will send you a 'certificate' of inauguration! This time it was Italy, so I thought I would share with you the dish I brought.

Now my time spent in Italy is no where near what I would like it to be, I love this country for its people, history, culture and cuisine. It is certainly one of those places where you will not find its true cuisine outside of the country, but this week I hope to take you as close as it is possible.

Not all Italian cuisine is pasta based, gnocchi are Italian dumplings and can come in many guises, they can be made from various products such as semolina or a form of choux paste. But we are going to make them from potatoes and flavour them with a menage of Italy's other famous ingredients: good olive oil, sundried tomatoes, Parmesan cheese and pesto. Of course you can serve them however you like; tossed in a meat sauce, sautéed with Parma ham strips, tossed in garlic butter with seafood . . . the list is endless.

The name "pesto" derives from the preparation of the sauce by crushing its ingredients in a mortar with a pestle. The pine kernels are famous for their aphrodisiac properties; Galenus in 200 AD recommended the following night cap to his male patients: a glass of honey, 20 almonds and 100 pine kernels. Try it you never know!

Buon appetito!

I am more than happy to share with you my personal favourites, but prefer to hear from readers as to what recipes you would like to see appear each week. So don't be shy . . . email me and let me know.

Ingredients for Gnocchi with Fresh Pesto and Sun-dried Tomatoes

Fresh Pesto    
basil leaves


pine kernels/nuts


garlic cloves


rock salt   sq
extra virgin olive oil   sq
Parmesan cheese (freshly grated)   sq
potato purée (must be dry)






egg yolk




sundried tomatoes


nutmeg   sq
fresh pesto   sq
Parmesan cheese (freshly grated)   sq

How to make Gnocchi with Fresh Pesto and Sun-dried Tomatoes

To make the pesto

  • Place the basil, pine nuts and garlic in a mortar with a sprinkling of rock salt (this not only seasons but also helps extract the moisture from the ingredients and acts as a grinding agent)
  • Grind with the pestle until as smooth or rustic as suits individual taste, adding a little oil during the process
  • Finish with sufficient Parmesan cheese to taste

To make the gnocchi

  • Mix the hot potato purée with the flour, egg, butter and season with sea salt, freshly ground pepper and nutmeg.
  • Shape/roll into 3 – 5 cm balls
  • Dust with flour and flatten slightly with a fork to leave an imprint
  • Poach in gently simmering salted water for approximately 8 minutes and drain well
  • Place in a little of the pesto in a warm bowl, add the gnocchi and sundried tomatoes, toss together
  • Arrange on serving dish, place parmesan shavings on top and lightly gratinée with blow torch or under the salamander (grill)

Chef's Tip for Gnocchi with Fresh Pesto and Sun-dried Tomatoes

The pesto is always best made with a pestle and mortar but a food processor can be used also, however the ingredients must be pulsed or it will just purée it.

Chef's terminology:

litres   tsp = teaspoon
millelitres   tbs = tablespoon
kilograms   sq = sufficient quantity (add to taste)
grams   pc = piece, meaning a whole one of

Enjoy and bon appetit . . . . .

Recipe from professional
Chef Tallyrand