Gnocchi and tomato sauce with zucchini salad

EVERY WEEK I take £5  to Ridley Road Market in Dalston, Hackney, London E8 2LH, to spend on seasonal food, obviously not including items likely to be already in a kitchen, such as sauces, oil, herbs and spices. On Friday I tell you what I have chosen and publish a seasonal recipeAs usual, expenditure on any extra ingredients, eg, flour, will be recouped by usage over subsequent weeks.

Some of the recipes will be frugal. They will all be vegetarian and all will be tasty.


This week’s £5 basket

Bowl carrots (5) 50p

Bowl cherry tomatoes (to many to count) £1

Potatoes (908kg, 2lbs) 70p

Bowl zucchini (courgettes, 6) £1

Bowl small cucumbers (10) £1

Bowl lemons(8) £1

Total £5.20


Recipe: Gnocchi and tomato sauce, serves 2. Zucchini salad, serves 2

Equipment— for gnocchi: paring knife, 2 large saucepans1 lidded, scales, mixing bowl, teaspoon, fork and draining spoon. For tomato sauce: knife, grater or zester and gratin dish. For zucchini salad: paring knife, peeler or sharp knife, tablespoon and serving dish. Wash all vegetables.

Preparationgnocchi: 25 minutes, cook 35 minutes. Preparationtomato sauce: 5 minutes, cook 10 minutes. Preparation— zucchini salad: 10 minutes. Overall, you will need about an hour to make all three dishes.

Ingredientsgnocchi: 400g potato peeled and cut into small cubes, 1 egg, 1 teaspoon chopped herbs (I’m using rosemary), 75g to 90g plain flour, seasoning. Ingredientstomato sauce: 400g tomatoes cut in half, 2 garlic cloves peeled and finely chopped, 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest, 1 teaspoon chopped thyme (left over from a March basket), 2 tablespoons oil and seasoning. Ingredients— zucchini salad: 2 zucchini trimmed and thinly sliced, zest and juice of 1 lemon, 1 large clove garlic peeled and crushed or chopped finely, 1 tablespoon oreganofresh or dried, oil and seasoning.

Method: Cook the potato in salted boiling water until soft enough to mashabout 15 minutes. While the potatoes boil, prepare the zucchini salad and get the tomatoes ready for cooking as shown below. 

Drain the potatoes, then return the pan without the lid to gentle heat to dry out the potatoes. Leave to cool. Mash the potatoes and add the egg and herbs and mix well. Add the flour to make a soft dough. Put on a saucepan of water to boil. Using a teaspoon, spoon out the mixture to make an egg-shaped gnocchi about 2cm long. Gently roll the dough in your palms and place it on a lightly floured surface and press the gnocchi with the back of a fork. Dip the fork into flour if it sticks to the gnocchi, and the same with your palms if they get sticky. Continue until all the dough is used. 

Drop the gnocchi into the boiling waterit will sink to the bottom of the pan, but when it rises, after about 3 minutes, it is cooked. Lift out with a draining spoon and place in a warm dish until they are all cooked. Keep the warm dish in a not-too-hot oven. Do not overcook the gnocchi because it will disintegrate. 

Method — tomato sauce: Place the halved tomatoes, cut side up, in the gratin dish and cover with all the other ingredients. Grill until the tomatoes are slightly charred and soft. 

Method — zucchini salad: Place the thinly sliced zucchini in a serving dish and add all the other ingredients. Toss and leave to marinate in a fridge until needed.

With the remaining food from my basket I’ll make a cold potato salad. I shall add the lemons to salad dressings and, if the day is warm, some freshly made lemonade. The cucumbers will be part of a tzaziki and if making a curry a lovely raita. The carrots will be grated to be used in salads and in potato patties. The lovely cherry tomatoes will be included fresh or cooked in many of this coming week’s dishes.

Tip: I always cook extra potatoes for later use in a salad with olive oil and toasted cumin seeds or to be made into patties with chopped cooked onions, grated carrots, herbs and seasoning.

This Wednesday, the Turkish Food Centre, at the east end of the market, had three small baskets of physalis for 99p while the market was selling two for £1. You have to check all the options, don’t you?

* Emboldened, coloured words may indicate a hyperlink. If a link does not work, it is probably because the site to which the URL refers has not been maintained.


* Two websites have written about this column recently. Hackney Post has published an interview with Shooey, as has the Food Bankers. — Ed.

Previous articles hyperlinked: Tomato soup with soda bread 12 April 2013Broccoli mornay 5 April 2013Easter redemption song 29 March 2013Less  is enough 22 March 2013A tart in the mart 15 March 2013; Polenta verde and sauté mushrooms 8 March 2013;

Just looking: council inspectors
Just looking: council inspectors vet the market

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