A million and a half calories: that’s roughly what the nine members of Team HTC-Highroad will collectively consume during a three-week stage race like August’s Vuelta a España. Keeping the cyclists fueled is chef Walter Groezinger, who, after culinary training in Stuttgart, Germany, started cooking for the team in 2002. One of Groezinger’s favorite standbys for the energy-sapping mountain days is old-fashioned potato gnocchi. “It’s great fuel but still easy to digest,” he says. His recipe takes an hour and a half to make and serves four famished racers.
Potato Gnocchi Tourmalet
1. Bake two pounds of potatoes until tender. Cool and peel.
2. Mash the potatoes, then mix in 1½ cups flour, two lightly beaten egg yolks, ¼ cup olive oil, ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Form into a ball and let rest for 15 minutes.
3. To make the sauce, sauté one small diced red onion and three cloves minced garlic over medium heat until they are translucent. Add one cubed medium zucchini and cook until golden. Mix in one 14-ounce can of crushed tomatoes, 1 teaspoon marjoram, ¼ cup sweet chili sauce, and salt and pepper to taste, then remove from heat.
4. To form the gnocchi, divide the dough into four pieces and roll each one into a ¾-inch-thick rope. Cut the ropes into one-inch pieces. Flour lightly.
5. Gently drop the gnocchi into salted boiling water a few at a time. As soon as they rise to the surface, approximately four to five minutes, remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to an ice bath, then drain completely.
6. Combine the gnocchi, sauce, ¼ cup chopped fresh basil, and 4 ounces crumbled feta and arrange in a baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Sprinkle on 2 ounces Parmesan cheese, ½ cup pine nuts, and ¼ cup chopped fresh basil and bake five minutes more, until the cheese is just melted.