When it comes to food I honestly try to make all of it by myself. An exception: cheese. I avoid buying processed products like bread, chocolate, cookies, chips, soups, pasta… Here in Berlin people eat pasta as if it were a national dish. I have visited Italy several times and I have been in many places there, but I still have feeling that Germans eat MUCH more pasta than Italians. The reason? It’s not the fact that Italians were the first large group of guest workers in Germany. The reason is the tempo. It is so practical (and we know very well how Germans like to be practical) to make a meal with pasta: for two people you need a half of a regular pasta pack and one can of sauce. You cook the pasta for 7 min, warm up the sauce in the microwave and Guten Appetit! In these 7 years, since I have been living in Berlin, I noticed that Germans are not really interested in food. For them food is something secondary – they eat because they need to. For them cooking is a waste of time. They prefer to go out to eat and to pay a little bit more money, instead of staying at home and making the kitchen dirty. Only in the last couple of years food has become very popular in Berlin. Food fashion and food design are as widespread as the Black Death in the Middle Ages. But that doesn’t change the situation much. Ask Germans how many days per week they eat pasta? Three times, I bet!
Last week I decided to make another popular Italian dish in Germany – gnocchi. It isn’t classical pasta because it is made from potatoes and flour, and potatoes are, on the other hand, the most popular vegetable in Germany. To make gnocchi a little bit more exiting I first change their color by combining regular potatoes with sweet potatoes to get a wonderful and smooth, pinkish dough. To make it attractive not only from the outside I add some cilantro powder into the dough.
When the dough is done and you have formed the gnocchi (see how in the recipe below) you can either cook them for a couple of minutes or fry them shortly. I was in the mood for the lighter version, so I needed some kind of a specific taste to combine with my fancy dough, something that will give it the intensity of fried oil, but will still let it be fresh and simple. I decided to cover my tender basis with sweet and sour tahini-lemon sauce with fresh parsley, shallots and ginger.
Tahini paste is made from finely grounded sesame seeds and comes from the Middle East. Dark tahini is made from sesame seeds ground with their husks and white tahini from hulled sesame. Here I used the white tahini because it is not as bitter as the dark one. Tahini is thick and tastes similar to peanut butter. If you combine it with a little bit of water and fresh lemon juice, you will get a tasty dressing that you can use in combination with many dishes.
Shallots, ginger and fresh parsley feel like fireworks in your mouth. And this creation reminds you of crackling candy: Freshness! Sweetness! Herbs! And when it’s in your belly, you are as happy as a child.
Gnocchi- all by myself
Ingredients for Gnocchi: (serves 2)
3 medium-sized potatoes
2 small-sized sweet potatoes (if you don’t have sweet potatoes, use regular ones)
70 gr spelt flour (or whole grain white flour)
1 tsp. cilantro powder
1 tsp. salt
1. Wash, peel and cut potatoes in half and put them into a large pot. Cover with water and bring to boil. Cook until potatoes are done (around 20 min.)
2. Drain potatoes and place them in a medium bowl. With a fork mash the potatoes until there are no lumps. Slowly add the flour, cilantro and salt. Using your hands knead the mass into a smooth dough. The dough is perfect if it is not too hard and not too sticky.
3. Make a 2 wide roll. Cut the roll in 2 cm sized pieces. Form small balls from every dough piece with your hands. In the end slightly press a fork on the surface of each ball.
4. Put the gnocchi in boiling water and cook for around 7 min. Gnocchi are done when they float on the water. Be very careful – if you cook them for too long, they are going to be mushy.
*If you prefer to fry the gnocchi, put some coconut oil, ghee or butter in a frying pan and fry the gnocchi for 1 min from each side.
2 Tsp. Tahini paste
Juice of a ½ lemon
6 ml water
2 shallots- finely chopped
A handful of fresh parsley- finely chopped
3 cm sized piece of ginger- finely minced
20 gr. pine nuts – lightly roasted
Honey to your taste (or agave juice)
1. Place the pine nuts in the frying pan and roast them until golden. Attention, it goes very fast! Set aside.
2. In a mixing bowl combine tahini paste, lemon juice and water. Stir until you get creamy, rather liquid sauce.
3. Add shallots, parsley and ginger and stir to combine.
Gnocchi with tahini parsley souse:
1. Put the gnocchi on the serving plate and cover it with tahini-parsley sauce.
2. Sprinkle with pine nuts and some organic honey.
3. Serve it while the gnocchi are still warm.
*I advise you to first prepare the tahini-parsley sauce and then the gnocchi, so that you can serve the dish warm-cold.