"One of the biggest treats from Food Safari Earth were these magnificent light, gnocchi - with a robust wild mushroom and passata sauce. Our friend, Franca Norris and her husband, Donald grow much of their own produce and enjoy foraging for wild mushrooms in the beautiful pine forests that surround their Myrtleford home in Victoria’s High Country. Franca learnt the secrets of where to find wild mushrooms from her father Angelo, who is such an expert, he paid for his passage to Australia with proceeds from mushroom hunting. This recipe is a celebration of Italian know-how - all the ingredients from the earth - combined with simple technique to create extraordinary flavour and texture." Maeve O'Meara, Food Safari Earth
A gnocchi dish that is light, pillowy and rich with earthy gold? Count us in.
- 4 large floury potatoes
- 150 g (1 cup) “00” flour
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- fresh oregano leaves and freshly grated parmesan, to serve
Wild mushroom sauce
- 60 ml (¼ cup) extra virgin olive oil
- 1 red onion, sliced
- 6-8 large saffron milkcap mushrooms, sliced
- sea salt
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 750 ml bottle tomato passata
- 40 g butter
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
For the sauce, heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion and fry for 1 minute before adding the mushrooms. Increase the heat to high and sauté until the moisture from the mushrooms has evaporated- you may wish to add a little more olive oil at this stage. Season with salt, then add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds or until fragrant. Add the passata, combine well, then bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes or until the sauce and mushrooms have a silky appearance. Add the butter right at the end and stir through.
Meanwhile, for the gnocchi, cook the unpeeled potatoes in lightly salted boiling water until tender. Drain well. While still hot, peel the potatoes, then pass through a potato ricer or mouli into a large bowl. Working quickly but gently, mix in the flour, then season with salt and mix in the egg. Tip the dough onto a board and knead briefly with a little more flour until the mixture comes together. Cut into 5 pieces and roll each piece into cylinders about the thickness of your thumb. Cut the cylinders into 1-1.5 cm pieces. Take a fork and roll each piece of dough on to the back of the prongs, forming a little dip in the centre which will hold the sauce. Place on a tray dusted with flour.
To cook, bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil. Carefully drop the gnocchi into the boiling salted water and cook for a few minutes or until they float to the surface. Lift out with a slotted spoon and add to the mushroom sauce. Toss to coat well, then serve scattered with oregano leaves and freshly grated parmesan.