gnocchi, green olives, clementines, dandelion

This is a more composed dish than I usually do, which is even more reason I should have taken a picture. On the other hand, beyond the cooking time for the potatoes, it’s a pretty quick dish to put together.  In that sense, this is sort of in the style of how we put together the gnocchi at Talula’s garden over the course of my year working there. The Spanish do a lot of various mixtures of olives, clementines (or oranges), almonds, sherry vinegar and cinnamon. Then cinnamon and potatoes is actually something I first did with Chinese food, but it fits. More than anything, though, I like the combination of textures on this plate.  Creamy almond puree, juicy clementines, crisp dandelion stems, tender gnocchi, crunchy almonds, fatty and bright vinaigrette. Yum.  

  • 4 large russet potatoes
  • 175g 00 flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 clementines, supremed and stored in their own juice
  • 8 castelvatrano olives, pitted and minced
  • Sherry vinegar and olive oil
  • 1 cup roasted and salted marcona almonds
  • 1 bunch Dandelion greens, only stems, cleaned and cut into inch-long segments
  • 1 shallot, brunois
  • 1 stick Cinnamon, toasted
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
  • 3 fresh bay leaves

Preheat the oven to 400. Lay down ½ inch of salt on a small sheet pan and sit the potatoes on top. Stab the potatoes with a paring knife or cake tester 7-8 times so that while they’re baking moisture can get out.  Pop them in the oven. When they’re done, you should be able to stick a knife into the center of the potato without resistance. Remove the potatoes when done. 

Put up a large pot of water to boil. Once the potatoes come out of the oven cut them in half and spoon out the flesh.  Put them through a food mill with the smallest holes. Then push them through a tammy to thoroughly puree the potatoes.  Weigh out 500g of the potatoes.  Weigh out 140g of flour and mix in the salt.  Sprinkle or dust the flour over the potatoes and cut it in using a knife or dough scraper.  

Work the dough with your hands into a manageable ball and knead just until it’s a solid mass, maybe 5 or 6 times altogether. As the potatoes cool they will get stickier, so move pretty fast. If the dough sticks to your fingers, work a little more flour in until it stops doing that. It shouldn’t be firm like pasta dough but it should be firm enough to hold its shape when you pinch off a piece.  

It is a learned skill to make gnocchi dough correctly and there’s no substitute for experience in this regard. This is an approximate ratio I’ve provided, but I do suggest before you start rolling and cutting that you test one out first by dropping a piece of the dough into simmering water. If it starts to fall apart before it floats, you need more flour in the dough. When it does float, let it cook for 10 more seconds and then remove to an oiled plate.  Let it rest for 3 or so minutes then eat it.  You’ll know if it’s right.  If it’s too soft, just cut in more flour.  Be mindful to cut the flour throughout the dough evenly.

You’ve made the dough! Flour your work surface and pinch off jawbreaker-size pieces and roll them out into ½-inch wide snakes on a floured surface, trying not to taper the ends too much.

Line these up next to each other and with a big knife or a bench scraper cut them all into ¾ inch pieces. Tine them by rolling each piece on a gnocchi board or the back of a fork.  It‘s sorta like giving your fingerprints when you‘re arrested. Grease a plate or sheet pan with a little good olive oil.  This is where you’ll land the gnocchi when they come out of the water.  Sprinkle the gnocchi with flour and drop them into the pot of boiling water.  When the water comes back to a boil, reduce the heat and let it simmer until the gnocchi float on the surface.  Wait 20 seconds and then scoop them out and directly onto the greased pan.  Sort them into a single layer and let them rest until you’re ready to use them, at least 10 minutes

In a blender, combine most of the marcona almonds (leaving aside 1 for each plate)  and enough boiling water to just cover them.  If using a vitamix, blend on high until thoroughly pureed, scraping down the sides halfway through. Pass the puree through a chinois.  If using a regular blender, puree on high as well as you can, but don’t strain it - it’s better for it to be a little chunky than for it to be grainy. Season to taste with salt and sherry vinegar.  Chop the rest of the marcona almonds by hand.  

Combine the olives, minced shallot, cinnamon, bay leaves, 1/2 cup of olive oil, 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar, and some clementine juice.  season with salt and pepper, and adjust the amount of oil or vinegar to taste.

Heat a non-stick pan with ¼ inch of olive oil. When the oil is rippling hot, sear the gnocchi in a single layer without moving them around.  Flip them one by one with a spoon or forceps.  Add in the dandelions stems.  When the stems and the gnocchi are seared, season with salt and pepper and toss.  Drop them onto a paper towel to absorb the excess oil. Smear a tablespoon of almond puree on each plate, then spoon the gnocchi mixture, the clementines, and the olive vinaigrette onto the plates.  Garnish with the chopped marcona almonds, and lightly dust the rim of the plate with cinnamon.