On this blogging journey of recreating the delicious meals I had the pleasure of eating across Europe, the day was bound to come where I would meet the challenge of my favourite mouthful. In the last stop of my Florentine nostalgia, we have today’s dish.
On our final night in Florence we crossed the river and headed to this large square. A simple church loomed over a group of teenagers who sat on its steps. In the centre, a fountain sploshed away surrounded by trees. And there, over in the far corner, our restaurant was spotted – string lights draped from the roof down to the pavement, making it rather hard to miss!
What greeted me was an absolute explosion of flavour – my bubbling ramekin came out to me fresh from the oven, a glistening sheen of truffle oil on top. This was not the time to feel guilty, but simply give in to the pure pleasure of it all. I was on holiday, after all, and had the first day of a 150km trek beginning the day after to rationalise the whole thing.
I decided to make my own gnocchi this time around – it’s a rather fun weekend activity, especially if you get other members of the house involved (thanks Buzz). Plus I think it makes the meal more authentic and definitely taste better. You can of course use premade gnocchi, but please try to get the best that you can (that means maybe go for the gnocchi that sits with the refrigerated pasta, rather than the dehydrated potato that sits with the packet pasta). Feel free to modify the recipe if you wish – I found that the combination of a soft cheese and a harder cheese worked really well, so if you stick to that formula and pick your favourite cheeses – perfect!
For the harder cheese, I chose a smoked Italian cheese, which kind of had the same consistency as a Swiss cheese. I highly recommend a smoked cheese as it balances the mozzarella nicely and adds another layer of flavour.
Now with buffalo mozzarella and truffle oil, this is definitely a treat meal in every sense. But why save it for a special occasion? Sometimes you deserve a treat meal, no matter what day of the year it is!
Gnocchi al Forno con Olio di Tartufo (Oven Baked Gnocchi with Truffle Oil) (Serves 4 – 6)
1kg gnocchi (I used Gennaro Contaldo’s recipe here)
one tablespoon olive oil
4 sage leaves
small handful of rosemary
one buffalo mozzarella ball (cow’s mozzarella is fine to substitute)
one cup smoked hard cheese of your choice, grated
one teaspoon truffle oil
Preheat the oven to 200°C.
Put a splosh of oil, the butter and herbs into an ovenproof pan over a medium heat and gently cook til butter is melted.
Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil. Carefully drop the gnocchi into the water. When the gnocchi float to the surface of the water, use a slotted spoon to remove them from the pan and put them your butter mix.
Pull apart the mozzarella over the gnocchi and sprinkle the grated cheese on top. Mix so everything is evenly coated in the herby butter melt.
Bake in the oven for 8 – 10 minutes until bubbly and golden. Drizzle over a few drops of the truffle oil to taste.
Serve with a fresh green salad on the side, if you feel the need to redeem yourself a little. Otherwise, put a large pile in a bowl and gleefully enjoy the cheesy potatoe-y indulgence.