Gnocchi

Potato Gnocchi don’t come from one particular region in Italy, but they are more of a northern thing.  A sort of pasta for potato lovers. They are fairly easy, although time consuming to make. You can however freeze the gnocchi. Cook from frozen for 6-7 minutes. Some people like to make ridges using a fork, grater or a special tool. I don’t bother as this takes ages and I don’t think it adds much to the dish.

Gnocchi ingredients

Gnocchi ingredients

  • 1 kg potatoes
  • 1 egg
  • 300 g 00 flour
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil
  1. Put the unpeeled potatoes into cold, salted water and bring to the boil. Cook for about 20 minutes until tender.
  2. Peel using a kitchen towel to protect your hands from the hot potatoes.
  3. Mash the potatoes preferably using a potato ricer or vegetable mill.
  4. Add the egg and mix quickly to avoid it cooking from the residual heat in the potato.
  5. Add the flour and knead until you get a smooth dough. This shouldn’t take too long.
  6. Break off a fist sized piece of dough and roll out a sausage about 3cm wide. Cut into 2cm pieces.
  7. To cook, tip the gnocchi into boiling salted water. They are ready when they have all floated to the surface.
  8. Drain the gnocchi and toss with a little olive oil to stop them sticking together.

Serve the gnocchi with a simple tomato sauce or maybe plain with a little parmesan.

Gnocchi finished dish

Gnocchi finished dish

Broad beans and wild chicory

Altamura crestFave e cicorie. This is one of the most traditional and most loved dishes from Puglia. The recipe varies from town to town and even from family to family.  Many thanks to Grazia from Altamura for her recipe.  I don’t know if ‘wild’  chicory is available outside Italy, but if you can find it, this dish is well worth trying.

Serves 4.

  • 200 grams dried peeled broad beans — soaked overnight
  • 1 onion, peeled
  • 1 stick celery
  • 3 cherry tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 bayleaf
  • 700g wild chicory, washed and separated into individual stems.
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • Olive oil

  1. Add the beans, onion, bayleaf, tomatoes and celery to an earthenware pot and cover with two fingers of water.
  2. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat, cover and cook very slowly until the beans are very tender – at least 2 hours. The water should have been completely absorbed at the end of cooking.
  3. Remove the onion, celery, and bayleaf. Mash the beans with a wooden spoon while adding a trickle of olive oil. Season with salt.
  4. Meanwhile boil the chicory in plenty of salted water until tender and drain.
  5. Add olive oil and garlic to a pan and cook until softened.
  6. Dress the chicory with the garlic oil.
  7. Serve on individual plates, arranging the beans on one side and the chicory on the other.
  8. Dress with a little more olive oil before serving.
    Variations:

  1. Grazia likes to grate the onion and celery and incorporate them in the puree.
  2. In some places potatoes are cooked along with the beans.
  3. Dress with a little chilli oil before serving (olio santo)

Tiella alla Barese

Bari crest

This is another tiella recipe from Bari. It’s not completely traditional as the mussels are not raw when added to the tiella, but if you don’t fancy opening all those mussels it’s a fair approximation. I’ll post the ‘authentic’ recipe later.

Tiella ingredients

Tiella ingredients

  • 400 g potatoes, peeeled and thinly sliced
  • 200 g risotto rice
  • 700 g mussels, cleaned
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • a handful of parsley, finely chopped
  • olive oil
  • 200 g tomatoes, peeled, deseed and chopped
  • pecorino cheese, grated
  • pepper
  1. Boil the rice until al dente. Reserve some of the cooking liquid.
  2. Heat the mussels in a pan with a little oil and the chopped garlic. When they have opened, remove from the pan. Strain and reserve the liquid. Remove the top shell from each mussel.
  3. Assemble the tiella in a ovenproof dish. Make layers of the ingredients in the following order – potatoes, rice, onions, tomatoes, a little cheese, parsley. Repeat until all the ingredients have been used up, finishing with a layer of potatoes.
  4. Pour the liquid from the mussels over the tiella. Add some of the cooking liquid from the rice so that the level of liquid comes about two thirds of the way up the dish. Season well with pepper (not salt as the mussel liquid will be quite salty). Drizzle olive oil on top.
  5. Bake uncovered for around 35 minutes at 180C. Add a layer of mussels in the half shells, drizzle on a little more oil and return to the oven for 10 minutes.
Easy tiella alla barese

Easy tiella alla barese

Tiella of mussels and potatoes

Bari crestThis is another classic dish from Bari. A tiella is a terracotto cooking dish thought to have been introduced by the Spanish. The ingredients are built up layer by layer in the dish and then baked in the oven. Tiellas were at one time the evening meal of the farm workers when they came in from the fields. They were made from whatever was abundant and cheap at the time. This version uses mussels, a staple of Pulgia.  Serves 4

tiella of mussels and potatoes ingredients

  • 1kg mussels, thoroughly cleaned
  • 500g tomatoes, sliced
  • 300g potatoes, thinly sliced
  • 2 large onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 bunch parsley, finely chopped
  • pecorino, grated
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper

  1. Heat the mussels in a pan with a little olive oil until they open. About 5 minutes. Reserve the liquid
  2. Remove the top shell from each mussel
  3. In an oven proof dish, preferably terracotta, put a layer of  half the tomatoes, then all the onions, half the parsley and half the garlic.
  4. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle a little olive oil.
  5. Then make a layer of the sliced potatoes.
  6. Make a layer of mussels in their half shell and top with the rest of the parsley and garlic
  7. Sprinkle plenty of pecorino on top and drizzle with some more olive oil.
  8. Bake at 180 C for 35-40 minutes

tiella of mussels and potatoes finished dish 1

tiella of mussels and potatoes finished dish 2