Soft potato gnocchis laying on a tomato sauce, topped with crispy cured ham, shaved parmesan and crunchy arugula to spice things up. A mouthful of flavours and textures!Soft potato gnocchis laying on a tomato sauce, topped with crispy cured ham, shaved parmesan and crunchy arugula to spice things up. A mouthful of flavours and textures!

Gnocchi a la Maria Pia

This recipe is so easy, fast and frankly too good tasting for the time and preparation it needs. It’s a bit like a cheating dish, too easy to be this good. It’s not a traditional “Italian” dish, it’s a personal experiment that turned out to be one of my favorite way to enjoy those little potato dumplings. It’s a dish filled with flavours and textures, in one bite you’ll get a smooth gnocchi and it’s coating of tomato sauce and a crunchy factor whether it’s the salty crispy ham or the fresh arugula. A dream dish, plus with all those textures and colors going, a perfect romantic dish for Valentines.


gnocchi di patateLet’s talk gnocchis for a sec… They look like pasta and come with a sauce like pasta but they are not pasta, they are potato dumplings. First of all, I chose premade gnocchis from the market, if you want to make your own check this recipe from an Italian guy (here) which explain from a to z about the gnocchis world. Another big difference is the way you cook the gnocchis, you should not add any salt to the water like with pasta, because the starch from the potato would come out and make them sticky, we don’t want that we want our gnocchis fluffy not sticky. Gnocchis should be dropped in the boiling water and than as soon as they come up, pick them up with a slotted spoon. There is no “al dente” rule when we talk gnocchis, just a drop and pick up rule.

Some extra textures to a smooth dish

Crispy cured ham; I’ve learned this trick in culinary school and no it’s not destroying the delicious ham already processed, it just enhancing it and changing its texture, that’s all. It somehow forces the residual water out, some extra fat out and make the ham ultra salty and crisp. It’s not cooking long enough to deteriorate anything. It’s mainly a texture thing, I love a meal to have many textures to contrast a little. For example this smooth gnocchi on a smooth tomato sauce need a touch of crunch to make it exciting, don’t you think? The arugula has a fresh crunch and the crispy cured ham brings the extra salt and crips. A perfect mix of textures and flavours!


Cupid’s Gnocchis

Makes 2 portions | Difficulty: Easy | Preparation: 10 minutes

Gnocchi a la Maria PiaIngredients
  • 500g gnocchi di patate
  • 400g tomato sauce 
  • 70g of cured ham (serrano, prosciutto)
  • arugula
  • parmesan (Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano)
  1. Start by making the crisp cured ham; add them on a baking sheet at 180°C (350F) for about 3-4 minutes or until crisp.
  2. Warm up the sauce, add to plates
  3. Add the gnocchi in a big pot of boiling water (unsalted) and pick them up with a slotted spoon once they surface
  4. Add the gnocchis over the tomato sauce, break a few crisp cured ham on top, arugula and shave a few parmesan pieces with the peeler.


Gnocchi a la Maria Pia

Bloody Mary

For those last days of cold, before the heat comes, just a little hot Bloody Mary drink will warm you up! Those are so delicious and different then most cocktails, it’s a bit of everything; spice, veggies, vodka… Back in Canada, where I’m from, they do drink a version with Clamato juice (mildly spicy clam broth and tomato juice) instead of simple tomato juice, they call it Bloody Caesar. Since Clamato isn’t easy to find in  Europe… maybe in latin american Bloody Marystores… I have to use tomato juice, and spice it up. Also add to import a few thing from Canada to make it, like the celery salt, which I think is an important element to this drink. Obviously, living in Spain, I add a little ingredient called “Salsa Espinaler” which is basically a vinegar and paprika sauce instead of the Worcestershire sauce.

The origin of the drink isn’t clear, but a parisian bar owner, from 1921, claimed it was his idea… The bloody Mary in the USA is often drank with ice cubes, while in Canada and France, they omit the ice cubes. You decide.

So here is the recipe for this spicy Bloody Mary.

Bloody Mary

Makes 1 portion

  • 50ml (1 shot) vodka
  • 250ml tomato juice
  • pinch of celery salt
  • cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 tbsp of Worcestershire (or salsa Espinaler)
  • 8 drops of tabasco
  • a squeeze of lime *optional
  • a celery stalk
  1. Add all the ingredients to a glass of your choice
  2. Mix it up with the celery stalk

Serve before a meal, it’s a good appetizer. Enjoy!