This dish is perfect for a Friday night in or if you’ve got someone coming over for dinner and want to impress without having to spend hours in the kitchen. Rare rump steak with pesto, asparagus and tomato gnocchi – served with a really punchy red, perhaps – might sound fancy, but it’s super easy and is really just a case of good timing and careful assembly.
You don’t have to cook the steak rare. Don’t let anyone tell you how you should have your steak. It’s food snobbery and I won’t be a part of it. However, I won’t be telling you how to cook it any other way because I just don’t like the taste, texture or aesthetic as much. Other steak tidbits include: get the best quality you can afford, preferably from the butcher, mix up the cut – sirloin, rib-eye, flank – if you prefer, and don’t trim off the fat. The fat is the flavour.
2 rump steaks – get them out of the packet at least an hour before you plan to cook (a few hours is preferable) and smother them in oil, flaky sea salt and cracked black pepper
4 cloves garlic, minced (or use this ingenious tool for a stronger taste and a consistency that’s less likely to catch and burn)
200g fresh gnocchi
100g basil pesto
10 asparagus tips
10 cherry tomatoes
20g extra-mature cheddar
Before you start cooking, bring a pan of salty water to the boil – this is for your gnocchi, but first we’ll soften the asparagus in it. The asparagus will only need a few minutes and can be put to one side while the water continues to bubble and you concentrate on the steak.
Get a frying pan really hot while you rub the mushy garlic all over your steaks. Then carefully place them in the pan, side by side with a tsp of butter. They should sizzle straight away. Don’t faff around with them or squeeze them. Just let them sit for 1.5-2 minutes, depending on how chunky they are, then flip them over for the same again. If you’re worried the pan is a bit dry, add another tsp of butter, but be careful not to make them stew.
Once the steaks are done, wrap them tightly in tin foil and a tea towel and leave to rest.
Pour the gnocchi into the boiling water for around 3 minutes. You’ll know it’s cooked when all the gnocchi balls have bobbed up to the surface. Drain the water – save for a splash or two – and then stir through the pesto and asparagus. Let that warm up for a couple of minutes, then add the cherry tomatoes and plate up.
Grate a little cheddar over the gnocchi before placing the steaks – cut into slithers – on top. Et voila!
For extra decadence, you could stir a dollop of creme fraiche through the pesto gnocchi, or tear off bits of burrata and scatter them across the finished dish, and if you’re looking for some heat, don’t be afraid to add a couple of chillis in with the toms or drizzle with chilli oil at the end.