I got back yesterday afternoon from a (very busy but enjoyable) weekend in Devon with family and friends (Just a quick hello to any members of the Exewing who happen to be reading!) which also involved cooking a couple of things from this blog that had taken my Dad’s fancy. (It seems that the chicken and vegetable pie is a new favourite with him and Mum!) I’d promised Alberto dinner and so I thought I’d cook this dish which I’ve had my eye on for a while. It comes from a Sainsbury’s recipe card and looks like an interesting and tasty meal. And I love gnocchi.
I have made a couple of small changes though – the recipe listed below is designed to serve 4 so I scaled it down a bit for 2. I only used one courgette for example and rather than a pack of small cherry tomatoes I bought a 250g pack of large vine cherry tomatoes and quartered (most of) them. Sainsbury’s only had pork mince in 500g packs so the version I did last night was a little bit more meaty and a little less courgette-y. Still delicious though. I also made my own cheese sauce rather than using a bought one. I used half cream and half milk for the cheese sauce and a mixture of cheddar and manchego cheese. I also included a generous sprinkling of paprika. (I would also have added mustard powder but realised that I didn’t have any!) I also completely forgot to sprinkle breadcrumbs over the top of the dish before baking it but I can’t say it made a lot of difference! I did, however, sprinkle some Gran Padano over the top along with the grated cheddar.
1 tablespoon of olive oil
400g of lean pork mince
2 courgettes, grated
1 teaspoons of fennel seeds, crushed
1/4 teaspoons of crushed chillies
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
150g of curly leaf kale
500g pack of Italian gnocchi
350g tub Italian three cheese sauce*
1/2 of a 335g pack of cherry tomatoes, halved
25g of fresh breadcrumbs
25g of (very) mature Cheddar cheese, grated.
(*I made my own!)
Preheat the oven to 200°C, fan 180°C, gas 6.
Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium heat. Add the pork and fry for 5 mins, until brown and crisp.
Stir in the grated courgettes and cook for 5 mins, adding the fennel seeds, chillies, garlic and kale for the final 2 mins. Season with freshly ground black pepper.
Meanwhile, bring a pan of water to the boil. Add the gnocchi and cook for2mins.
Drain, reserving 250ml of the cooking water.
Pour the cheese sauce into the pan with the pork mixture, then stir in the gnocchi, tomatoes and the reserved cooking water. (I didn’t actually bother stirring in the reserved cooking water and it didn’t really seem to make any difference.)
Pour the mixture into a 1.5-litre baking dish, top with the breadcrumbs and grated Cheddar and bake for 15-20 mins until golden.
This is utterly lovely – I was worried that the pork and the cheese sauce wouldn’t go well together but they really did. The fennel and chillies give the dish some interesting flavours and a little bit of heat, but not too much. The paprika in the cheese sauce also adds a lovely piquancy.
(as you can see – it goes very well with rosé wine!)