Once of my favourite midweek treats is a bowlful of gorgeously golden gnocchi nuggets. I have dabbled in making my own gnocchi – I love sweet potato and pumpkin varieties – but the packet version is such a handy weapon in the kitchen armoury, offering almost instant gratification. Ordinarily you boil the gnocchi, similar to pasta, but when fried in butter it becomes crispy on the outside and so tender in the middle.To retain that crispness, I don’t want the sauce here to be so thin that it makes the gnocchi soggy; it should be intensely flavoured and thick enough to just coat everything. 

Helen Cathcart

Helen Cathcart

Ingredients - serves 2-4

  • 2 banana shallots
  • 300g mixed mushrooms
  • About 8 sage leaves 
  • 100g dry white wine 
  • 400g gnocchi

The essentials 

  • 100g butter
  • Sea salt flakes 
  • Coarse black pepper 
  • Olive oil 


Finely chop the shallots and add them, with the butter, to a large frying pan set over medium heat. Add a pinch of salt and reduce the heat to medium-low, frying the shallots until softened – a good 15 minutes should do it. Give the pan a stir every once in a while to stop the shallots catching.

Meanwhile, slice the mushrooms thinly and roughly chop half of the sage. When the shallots are softened, increase the heat to high and throw in the mushrooms. Stir-fry them for a couple of minutes until they start to soften, then add the sage and pour in the wine. Allow the wine to bubble and reduce so it coats the mushrooms, but isn’t really wet enough to be a sauce. Check the seasoning – probably needs pepper and a touch more salt – then remove from the pan.

Clean the pan and return it to a medium heat then add the remaining 50g butter. Once the butter melts add the gnocchi and fry, without stirring or tossing, for 2 or 3 minutes until golden brown. Then toss about in the pan and fry for a few minutes more. The gnocchi should be slightly crispy so it clatters quietly and invitingly when moved. Return the mushrooms to the pan and stir to coat the gnocchi.

To garnish, heat at least 3 tablespoons of oil in a small saucepan and allow it to get hot then add the remaining sage leaves, frying them for just a minute, maybe less, until crispy. Remove from the pan and blot on a piece of kitchen paper.

Serve generous, heaping platefuls of the gnocchi with a crispy sage leaf or two. 

Recipe taken from John's book, Perfect Plates in 5 Ingredients. Buy here.