Turning the spud into a sort of pasta makes a refreshing change from the usual potato side dishes. Tasty little gnocchi can be served simply dressed with a little olive oil or melted butter. However, they also lend themselves to all sorts of exciting treatments, as here with wild mushrooms. Serve this delicious dish as a one-stop accompaniment to game, as a starter or as a vegetarian main course.
First make the gnocchi: preheat the oven to 180°C/gas 4 and bake the potatoes in their skins until cooked through, about 1 hour.
Scoop out the flesh from the potato skins while still hot and pass immediately through a sieve or potato ricer into a stainless-steel bowl.
Add the flours, egg, seasoning and nutmeg, then combine gently but quickly. While still warm, on a floured surface, mould tightly into desired shapes (usually marble-sized balls or longer cylinders).
Pop into plenty of salted rapidly simmering water and cook until they all float to the surface. Lower the heat and cook for about 1 minute more then drain.
To make the fricassee of wild mushrooms, melt the butter in a frying pan and sweat the shallots lightly in it. Add the garlic, mushrooms and herbs. Continue to cook gently for 10 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper, add the Madeira, bring to the boil, add the cream and reduce by one-third.
Add the spinach and half the Parmesan, pop in the gnocchi and simmer for 10 minutes. Preheat a hot grill.
Finally, adjust the seasoning, add the remaining Parmesan and glaze under the grill.
© 2008 Anthony Demetre. All rights reserved.