During my last trip across the Channel to London, my friend and fellow blogger the Gastronomic Nomad introduced me to The Providores and Tapa Room, one of the amazing restaurants of New Zealand native and fusion cuisine guru Peter Gordon. While partaking of the wonderful brunch there, we were excited to discover that the restaurant also sells Gordon's beautiful cookbooks. Both of us ended up buying A World in My Kitchen, and although I haven't had a chance to cook from it much as of yet, it was the source of the recipe for tonight's spicy dinner.
Gnocchi, the yummy Italian potato dumplings, have always been a favorite of mine. A packet of readymade, fresh gnocchi always makes for a quick and delicious meal, so gnocchi is part of our regular rotation for those nights when we are too harried to cook elaborate meals. Of course homemade gnocchi is even better, but I don't usually have the time to do it save for the weekends. However even readymade gnocchi can be a special treat when you top it with a sauce made with bold, fresh ingredients like this one.
I loved the sound of this recipe from Peter Gordon with its strong, distinctive flavors - tomato, olives and garlic confit. Consdering that we had picked up some great olives at the Salon de l'Agriculture on Saturday, I knew that they would be perfect in this dish. The garlic confit was a great touch too. Essentially, the confit is made of 10 cloves of garlic simmered over low heat in extra-virgin olive oil. I had never made it before but absolutely loved the rich and complex taste brought out by the simmering process.
This should come as no surprise, because any good spice mistress loves her garlic! In the Indian system of Ayurveda, garlic is renowned for its medicinal and healing properties and is used to treat everything from asthma and bronchitis to high blood pressure and skin problems. So don't shy away from it...the more garlic, the better!
GNOCCHI WITH TOMATO, OLIVES AND GARLIC CONFIT
Adapted from Peter Gordon's A World in My Kitchen
10 cloves of garlic, peeled
180 milliters (about 2/3 cup) extra-virgin olive oil
14.5 ounce (400 grams) can chopped tomatoes
4 bay leaves
Handful of good quality olives of your choice
Salt and sugar, to taste
400 gram package of fresh gnocchi
Handful of fresh parsely, chopped
Fresh mozzarella, sliced
Crushed red pepper flakes, to taste (optional)
1. Place the garlic cloves in a small, heavy saucepan and cover with olive oil. Cook on very low heat for 30-45 minutes, until the garlic cloves are soft and almost gooey. Make sure that you don't burn or overlook the garlic - you don't want it to be crunchy!
2. Heat 1/3 cup of the garlic-infused oil in a large pan over low heat. Add the chopped tomatoes and stir well, sauteeing for 2-3 minutes. Add the bay leaves, garlic confit and olives. Season with salt and sugar to taste, stir well and cook until heated through.
3. In the meanwhile, cook the gnocchi according to the package directions. Drain and add to the sauce.
4. Stir in chopped parsely and mozzarella. Add crushed red pepper flakes. Serve warm.