Gnocchi in tomato sauce is one of my favourite combinations and it's the perfect hearty dish for a Sunday lunch. Gnocchi is fairly easy and inexpensive to make, and the homemade version tastes a world apart from the industrial made ones. This recipe serves 2 people.
Scrub 3 large potatoes leaving the skin on. It is important that you choose "old" potatoes, rather than new ones, as they are drier and more floury and will result in a less sticky dough. Halve 4-5 medium sized tomatoes and remove the seeds. Peel a few shallots (about 7-8).
Preheat an oven at 180°C, place the tomatoes, the potatoes and the shallots on a baking tray and bake in the oven for about an hour (you might require an additional 15 mins depending on the size of the potatoes). Periodically check the shallots and remove them from the tray half way to prevent burning. Tomatoes and shallots should dry out as shown in the picture.
Peel the potatoes from the skin and mash the pulp in a container using a fork. Once nicely mushed, salt and gradually add about 100gr of flour and (optionally) 20gr of Panko (Japanese breadcrumbs, which can be purchased at any Japanese food outlet).
Once the ingredients are uniformly mixed, add about half a beaten egg into the mixture, achieving a smooth, solid paste pictured below.
With your hands, roll pieces of dough into 2cm diameter cylinders, and with the back of a kitchen knife, detach the gnocchi one by one into 3cm long chunks.
Put the shallots and tomatoes in a blender and quickly blend into a smooth sauce. Fry one slice of bacon, thinly chopped, on a dash of olive oil. Pour a splash of red wine and once evaporated add the tomatoes with a couple of trimmed leaves of fresh basil. Season with salt and cook for about a minute, adding water if the sauce gets too thick. In a large pan, bring some water to the boil, salt it and boil the gnocchi until they raise to the surface. Remove them from the water. Heat a large non-stick pan, pour a dash of olive oil and saute' the gnocchi for 3-4 minutes, until they are golden brown and crispy on the surface.
Finally, put the gnocchi on a plate, top with the sauce and garnish with a leaf of basil and some grated pecorino cheese to taste.