Requires: potato ricer or tamis (drum sieve), plastic wrap (cling film) and a food mill
To make the Tomato and basil sauce, place the olive oil in a heavy-based stockpot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic. Cook until the onion is soft. Add the Roma tomatoes (or San Marzano canned tomatoes). Bring to the boil, then add the basil, sugar and a pinch of salt. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for approximately 1 hour or until the sauce has reduced to your required consistency, stirring occasionally so that the sauce does not stick to the pot and burn, then remove from the heat. Add water to the Tomato and basil sauce, as needed to keep the sauce lovely and moist. Discard garlic clove. Set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, wash the potatoes and place in a large pot (unpeeled). Cover with cold water and bring to the boil. Add a pinch of salt and cook, uncovered, until the potatoes are tender all the way through (approximately 30-40 minutes after the water has come to a boil).
Drain the potatoes and let them cool slightly. Prepare a medium sized bowl to place the mashed potatoes. Cut the potatoes in half and place cut side down into a potato ricer. Remove the potato skins each time you place a piece of potato into the potato ricer. Alternatively, remove the potato skins and mash using a tamis (drum sieve) into a bowl.
Mix the egg yolks into the mashed potato, then add the Parmigiano Reggiano. Gradually stir in the flour one spoon at a time, then transfer to a lightly floured work surface. Work in enough flour and knead gently until a soft, light dough forms.
Divide the dough into four portions. Cover three of the portions with plastic wrap (cling film) to keep them from drying out. Lightly flour the work surface and roll one of the portions into a long rope about 1.5cm in thickness. Cut the rope into gnocchi (approximately 1.5cm in length). Take each piece of gnocchi and roll one at a time down the tines of a fork, letting it drop onto a lightly floured surface at the end. This motion will give the gnocchi their signature ridges. Arrange the gnocchi onto a very well-floured tray. Repeat with the remaining dough.
Note: Steps 2-5 can be prepared several hours in advance. Gnocchi can also be frozen.
Prepare your food mill over a clean saucepan or stockpot. Ladle the cooked tomato and basil sauce into the food mill and stir to collect the lovely tomato pulp and juice in the pot. Discard the tomato skins and seeds that are left in the food mill. Heat the saucepan or stockpot over medium heat. Bring the tomato and basil sauce to the boil, then reduce heat to the lowest setting.
Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and add the gnocchi in batches (they will sink to the bottom). Stir gently and cook until the gnocchi float to the surface. Remove the gnocchi with a slotted spoon, transferring to a large bowl. Repeat with remaining gnocchi.
Remove the saucepan or stockpot with tomato and basil sauce from the heat. Toss the cooked gnocchi in the tomato and basil sauce. To serve, spoon gnocchi into serving bowls – buon appetito.
Note: Roma tomatoes need to be ripe and flavoursome for this recipe. Use quality fresh Roma tomatoes only in the summer months of the year. Alternatively, use San Marzano canned tomatoes.