A Mountain-Stage Feast

The recipe for a 100-mile day in the saddle

Potato Gnocchi Tourmalet

Potato Gnocchi Tourmalet     Photo: Andrew McCaul

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.

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