Piedmont Gnocchi with Charred Purple Sprouting Broccoli and a Creamy Garlicky Sauce

I made ricotta, cavolo nero and lemon malfatti last weekend. By accident. It was gnocchi that I was attempting to make but the mixture was just too soft to shape and cut. No problemo, we love malfatti – an Italian term meaning ‘badly made’, even though it’s made with love and care – and I will definitely make them again. However, my desire for properly made potato gnocchi had to be sated so I bought some in order to create this delightful dish richly enhanced with the addition of a generous knob of butter, Normandy crème fraîche and a modest grating of Parmigiano-Reggiano to a Piedmont-inspired sauce. The result was a perfect late autumn dish to share with loved ones alongside a beautifully dressed salad and a bottle of robustly fruity Barolo.

Serves 3, generously


1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
200g purple sprouting broccoli, trimmed
Handful of cavolo nero, finely sliced (optional)
500g good quality fresh gnocchi
1 lemon, zested and juiced

For the sauce:
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 white onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tsp dried chilli flakes
75g salted butter
100ml Normandy crème fraîche
30g Parmigiano-Reggiano, finely grated plus extra to serve
1 lemon, zested and juiced
½ tsp Dijon mustard
Sea salt flakes and freshly ground mixed peppercorns
Pul biber, to garnish (optional)

How I make it

Heat a large frying pan over a medium heat and fill with boiling water. Salt generously and add the gnocchi. Cook as instructed on the pack. Drain – reserving a ladle of the cooking water – and set aside.

Wipe out the pan and return it to the heat. Add a generous glug of olive oil and gently fry the broccoli turning occasionally until it begins to char around the edges, around 10 minutes.  Set aside.

To make the sauce, wipe out the pan again, return it to the heat and add a generous splash of extra-virgin olive oil. Cook the onion until it’s translucent then add the garlic and chilli and cook for a further five minutes. Add the butter, crème fraîche, parmesan, the lemon juice and the mustard. Stir together until the cheese has melted loosening the sauce with the reserved gnocchi cooking water and season to your taste. 

Add the gnocchi and broccoli to the sauce and slowly warm through. Serve immediately with a sprinkling of finely grated parmesan and the lemon zest. 

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