During winter, I usually go through stages of craving certain comfort foods – and I’m sure I’m not alone. Currently, I have a mild obsession with gnocchi, those cute little potato dumplings that soak up all kinds of delicious sauces. I’m sure my love for gnocchi has something to do with the fact that they look like little pillows but the word ‘gnocchi’ actually means ‘lumps’ in Italian and, although I’m particularly fond of the potato kind, they can also be made from semolina dough, ricotta and choux pastry. The tomato, sausage and fennel sauce I’m serving it with here, is one of my standy weekday meals. It’s super-quick, packed with flavour and the addition of the gnocchi makes it a great comfort food and impressive if you’re having guests over. Tomatoes have a host of health benefits and when they’re cooked into a sauce they release an antioxidant which helps reduce your risk of heart disease and certain cancers, making this a healthy family dinner too. Although this sauce goes spectularly with the smoothness of the potato pillows, it will work equally well with any other type of pasta. Make a double batch of sauce and keep portions in the freezer, ready to layer into lasagne, pasta bakes or even omelettes.
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 leek, chopped
1 Tbsp fennel seeds
2 bay leaves
6 lean pork sausages, casings removed
½ cup red wine
1 x tin tomatoes
50 ml tomato paste
Salt and black pepper
500 g store-bought potato gnocchi
Parmesan, grated for serving
Heat a little olive oil and sauté the garlic until golden. Add the leek and sauté until soft. Stir in fennel and bay leaves. Add the pork sausages and sauté until browned. Add the wine and reduce for three minutes. Add the tinned tomatoes and paste. Simmer for 10 minutes. Season to taste and then toss the gnocchi into the sauce and serve with grated Parmesan.
TIP: Roast a bag of store-bought veggies until golden and soft and stir into the tomato sauce to bump up the nutrients in this family meal.