Tomatoes and Gnocchi

I have had a really lucky month. I planted dozens and dozens of tomato plants in spring. My plan had been to grow enough tomatoes to make a year’s worth of passata. But I had grown far more than a year’s worth and after reaching my goal of 100 bottles of passata and after making relishes, drying tomatoes and tomato soups I decided I needed to do something else with the others, something that did not involve me doing more cooking and preserving.

My dream for my life here in Blampied, is to be able to make a modest income from our property so that I will not need to find work off it. I have worked in an office environment for 25 years. And although I have loved my work very much and continue to enjoy sporadic moments working in an office, I crave to be outdoors and in my garden more than anything else.

Two nights ago I watched the wonderful documentary called Living the Change by the really wonderful crew ‘Happen Films’. In the footage was a young doctor who was describing how he felt when he was in his fruit and vegetable garden. He said he felt in love, in love with the garden and it reminded me of how often, back in Melbourne, in my established garden with chooks and bees, how very often I felt that emotion. I felt this very deep sense of love for life that was so fulfilling, so enriching, so energising that no trip overseas, no exotic location, no fame could possibly attain.

So with the surplus of tomatoes and with the collaboration of social media, I was able to tell people in my local community that I had tomatoes for sale. Through Instagram and Facebook the emails and texts of tomato orders started to arrive. An order for 5kg, then 10kg, then 45kg, then 60kg and so on and all these orders including the tomatoes that I myself used for preserving has added to a total of about 700kg of tomatoes grown in my kitchen garden this year! And I am soooo pleased because it has kept me financially supported through the month of February and March.

Now I am thinking of my soil and pests and climate and that next year I must grow my crop in another part of the garden. And I will do that. I am also aware that it was a good year for tomatoes and that my kitchen garden is protected to the south and north by wind breaks and that was a good thing. Also this year I did not prune (and never will) and I planned to stake but it did not happen and most of the tomato plants grew on the ground. What will I do next year? I won’t prune that is for sure…but I will stake I hope to make harvesting easier. But I will once again plant them very close because the warm microclimate this creates I think helped immensely with the their colouring. But I was lucky that it was not a humid sumer and if next year is humid then small spacing’s will create possible fungal growth…so I am thinking about it all right now.

In the next couple of weeks I will be sowing more peas and beans and legumes to give my tomato growing soil a break from hungry tomatoes. And I will be sowing garlic where my broad beans were recently grown.

This month I have also had another really gorgeous Work Away staying with me called Maria, from Veneto Italy. Good Work Away’s are so much help and so much good company. She like others before her, is truly fantastic!!! and I have had the opportunity to speak my native language on a daily basis. Maria brought with her a piece of advice that I cherish…’to make consistently good gnocchi you need a potato presser’…and with this invaluable piece of news we made gnocchi with a tomato ragu` of course.

 

Hello and happy Easter to you all, lots of kisses from me. Mara

Almost at the end of my harvest.

 

Passata bottles in my larder.

 

Weighing tomatoes for sale.

 

Dryed tomatoes for winter.

 

Really simple tomato soup.

Making Gnocchi.

Use any potato suitable for mashing. Boil whole in a pressure cooker if you have one. Pressure cook for no more than 10mins. Once cooked remove from pressure cooker as soon as possible, once pressure is released. Drain and while still very hot begin to press through a suitable device.

 

We used a Spaetzle Maker which is designed for making German noodles. It produces the perfect consistancy of potato. I had not considered using it for making gnocchi until Maria arrived. It makes the perfect potato consistancy needed for really good gnocchi.

 

This is what the potato looks like after being pressed through the Spaetzle maker.

 

Mix 1000g of potato with 300g of flour and then measure another 50g for dusting on work surfaces. Work the dough while it is still hot. If after adding the 300g of flour the dough still looks very wet/potato like then add another 50g. The dough should not be sticky. Put a little bit of flour on your work surface but not too much because as you roll the dough you need it to adhere a little to the work surface so that the rolling is easy.

 

Roll mostly with the tips of your fingers.

 

Cut gnocchi with a knife into desired size, not too big. And then place on a flour dusted surface and place in boiling water. Once they have risen to the surface scoop out into a large flat bowl so that they don’t all sit on top of each other but are well spaced out. Add ragu` and enjoy.

 

I wanted to post pictures of the last few steps and the finished meal but we were so hungry that we forgot to take photos before eating!