Monday 17 September 2007

Curious Congo...

I am dedicating this month (well, whatever is left of it anyway) to the preparation of several farinaceous dishes beginning with an extraordinarily coloured gnocchi. On Sunday afternoon after a last minute cancellation to watch the new Pixar animated movie, "Ratatouille" with my very dear friend Jean-Michel, I headed to my local green grocers in search of some produce that may inspire me to cook something special for myself for a change.

I got my hands on some Purple Congo Potatoes with the initial plan of making a simple potato salad, to show off their intense purple-ness. Instead, I got somewhat distracted between the planning and the executing, and made gnocchi, which contrary to popular belief isn't as time consuming or as daunting a task.

Purple Congo Potatoes also go by the names: British Columbia Blue, McIntosh Black, River John Blue, Sharon's Blue. In Australia, these potatoes retail at a dearer price compared to your new season potatoes (about 3 times the value per kilo). Purple Congos are small, oval shaped (just like kiplers) and have a dry mealy texture when cooked. It comes too as no surprise that the sweet pigmented flesh of these potatoes contain a high level of antioxidants and is also an excellent source of natural dye should you decide to change the colour of your wardrobe.

I made the gnocchi following a recipe found in Italy's culinary bible The Silver Spoon. The outcome was a surprisingly tender dumpling, fluffier and sweeter than gnocchi made from the usual white potatoes and at the risk of sounding overtly cliche, it is just like eating a fluffy purple cloud!

I thoroughly enjoy eating gnocchi with a hearty bolognaise sauce but it seemed such a shame to conceal the novel colour and flavour of these purple pillows with such a heavy sauce so I served them tossed in a creamy garlicky sauce topped with crunchy Ciabatta crumbs and finely grated Comte cheese.