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Gnocchi with Tuscan Beef Ragu

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Serves: 4
25g / 1 oz dried porcini
3 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
1 celery, trimmed and finely chopped
1 fennel bulb, trimmed and sliced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
450g / 1 lb fresh beef steak mince
4 tbsp red wine
50g / 2 oz pine nuts
1 tbsp freshly chopped rosemary
2 tbsp tomato paste
400g can chopped tomatoes
225g / 8 oz fresh gnocchi
salt and freshly ground black pepper
100g / 4 oz mozzarella cheese, cubed

Preheat the oven to 200ºC / 400ºF / Gas Mark 6, 15 minutes before cooking. Place the porcini in a small bowl and cover with almost boiling water. Leave to soak for 30 minutes. Drain, reserving the soaking liquid and straining it through a muslin-lined sieve. Chop the porcini.

Heat the olive oil in a large heavy-based pan. Add the onion, carrot, celery, fennel and garlic and cook for 8 minutes, stirring, or until soft. Add the minced steak and cook, stirring, for 5-8 minutes, or until sealed and any lumps are broken up. Pour in the wine, then add the porcini with half the pine nuts, the rosemary and tomato paste. Stir in the porcini soaking liquid then simmer for 5 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes and simmer gently for about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, bring 1.7 litres / 3 pints of lightly salted water to a rolling boil in a large pan. Add the gnocchi and cook for 1-2 minutes, until they rise to the surface.

Drain the gnocchi and place in an oven proof dish. Stir in three-quarters of the mozzarella cheese with the beef sauce. Top with the remaining mozzarella and pine nuts, then bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, until golden brown. Serve immediately.

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