Watercress gnocchi with prawns

Nut-brown butter sauce adds a luscious finish to Maria Elia's spring-fresh homemade gnocchi
By Maria Elia
Watercress gnocchi with prawns
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 4-6
  • Cook Time: 2 hours 45 minutes
  • Prep Time: 45 minutes
  • Effort: easy


  • 100 g rock salt
  • 10 large King Edward or Maris Piper potatoes, about 2kg
  • 2 bunches watercress
  • 150-200 g 00 flour or pasta flour
  • freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 100 g podded broad beans
  • 100 g petit pois
  • olive oil
  • 250 g raw peeled tiger or king prawns
  • 150 g unsalted butter
  • 1/2 lemon, juice only


1. Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan/Gas 6. Scatter the rock salt in a roasting tin, sit the potatoes on top and bake for 1½ -2 hours, or until the potatoes are soft in the middle when pierced. Remove and let cool just enough to handle.

2. Meanwhile, bring a saucepan of water to the boil. Add 1 bunch of the watercress and cook for 30 seconds. Drain and refresh in iced water. Drain thoroughly then squeeze the excess water from the greens and finely chop them.

3. Cut the potatoes in half, scoop out the flesh and pass it through a potato ricer or mouli into a large bowl (although you've let them cool a little, the potatoes must still be hot when you do this). Stir in 150g of the flour. Turn the mixture out onto a board. Season well with salt, pepper and nutmeg, add the watercress and knead lightly to bring it all together.

4. Make a well in the centre, pour in the egg and gradually work the potato mixture into it to form a soft dough. Take care not to overwork the mixture or the gnocchi will be rubbery. Add the remaining flour if the dough seems too wet.

5. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Take a little of the dough and drop it in the boiling water. Once it has returned to the surface, remove it and cool briefly. Taste the dumpling to see whether you need to add more seasoning to the dough. You are also checking to see whether the mixture holds together while cooking ' if not, add a little more flour and test again.

6. Line a few trays with parchment paper and sprinkle them with flour. Cut the gnocchi dough into 3-4 pieces and roll each into a long sausage shape about 2cm in diameter. Cut each cylinder into 3cm pieces and place them on the trays (you can refrigerate the gnocchi if you don't want to cook them immediately).

7. Reduce the pan of water to a brisk simmer. Cook the broad beans and peas until tender, about 3 minutes, then remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

8. Working in batches, drop the gnocchi into the pan of simmering water and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until they rise to the surface. Remove, drain on absorbent cloth and keep warm.

9. Pick the leaves from the remaining bunch of watercress. Heat a large frying pan and add a little oil. Season the prawns and fry them until opaque, approximately 2 minutes. Remove the prawns from the pan and set aside. Add another dash of oil and cook the watercress leaves just until wilted. Set them aside with prawns.

10. Melt the butter in the frying pan and cook until it begins to turn nut-brown. Add the lemon juice. Return the prawns and watercress to the pan and turn to coat them with the butter. Toss with the warm gnocchi, peas and broad beans and serve.

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