Gnocchi (noh-kee) is a deliciously filling small potato dumpling dish. Gnocchi is very easy to prepare by mixing flour, egg, and potato. It is traditionally served as a pasta dish. Variations include semolina, pumpkin, sun dried tomato and spinach. Gnocchi is enjoyed around the world and with good reason--it is a versatile dish, inexpensive to prepare, easy to make, and delicious. This recipe serves 2-3 people. Double it up for a dinner party.
1 kg or 2 1/4 lb potatoes (King Edwards are recommended - try to find potatoes that are neither too floury, nor too waxy)
1 egg (optional)
300 g or 10 2/3 oz (2 cups) flour (OO flour - very fine flour; or plain flour, you may need more depending on the potatoes used)
Boil the potatoes. Place unpeeled potatoes into a large saucepan and add enough water to cover them. Place on a high heat, add 3 teaspoons (1 tablespoon) of rock salt, then leave to boil. Check the "Warning" section below, however.
Drain potatoes. When the potatoes are tender, after about 20 minutes of boiling, turn the heat off and tip them into a colander to drain.
Peel the potatoes.To protect your hands, use a tea towel to hold the potatoes as you peel away the skins with a knife.
Mash the potatoes. Pass the still hot potatoes through a passatutto (or potato ricer). This method is recommended as air gets trapped in the potatoes making for a lighter gnocchi. If you don't have one you can, of course, use a masher but the end result won't be as good.
Add the egg and flour. Add 2 generous pinches of salt and a pinch of pepper. Crack the egg and stir in quickly before the temperature of the potato cooks it. (The egg is optional, though.) Add 2 handfuls of the flour. Mix until it's all absorbed.
Form a dough. Turn the potato onto a wooden surface and tip the rest of the flour on top. Use your hands to mix it together. After a minute or two it will form into a dough. Knead lightly. When it reaches a pliable consistency, it's ready.
Form the gnocchi.
Sprinkle the surface with flour. Slice a fist sized piece from the dough ball and roll out into lengths that are about 3 centimetres thick.
Working quickly while the dough is still warm, use a flexible knife to cut off 2 centimetre pieces. Slice off another fist sized piece and repeat until you have used all of the dough.
Place the gnocchi onto a tray, leaving a space between each piece to prevent them from sticking together.
Boil water. Fill a large pan with water and add 3 teaspoons of rock salt. Place over a high heat, put on the lid, and bring to the boil.
Tap the gnocchi from the tray into the boiling water. This method will stop the boiling water from splashing your hands. Give them a little stir and leave to cook.
Wait for them to reach the surface. When the gnocchi have all bobbed to the surface, they're ready to serve. Scoop them out with a sieve, shake off the water and transfer them to a tray. Drizzle a little oil over them and give the tray a shake.
Stir the gnocchi into a warm sauce of your choice. As a final touch, you can grate a little Pecorino cheese over the top. This dish works exceptionally well with a rosé wine.
Recipe courtesy of renowned Italian chef, Giancarlo Caldesi.
The cooked gnocchi can be stored in the fridge for 2 to 3 days. It can also be frozen for up to 3 months. Cook from frozen for 6-7 minutes in boiling water.
Rather than just cutting the gnocchi, you can push them individually off the tines of the back of a fork using your thumb, imprinting them with little ridges. This holds sauce better and promotes even cooking in the center.
You can also re-roll the cut up gnocchi. This will make it prettier.
Baking the potatoes also works. You will end up with dryer potatoes which allows you to use less flour which, in turn, makes your gnocchi less doughy. It is slightly harder to strike the right flour/potato balance but can result in very light, fluffy gnocchi.
Instead of using potato, you can use pumpkin. It makes both the taste and the colour different, so it's more interesting.
Instant mashed potatoes can be substituted for the potatoes, though the gnocchi will likely turn out "heavier."
When boiling the potatoes, don't put cold potatoes into already-boiling water; this will cause the skin to split, and make the potatoes soggy.
This requires plenty of time and patience, but you'll eventually make great Gnocchi.
Things You'll Need
1 large saucepan
1 passatutto (a food mill - if you don't have one, a regular potato masher will do)
1 flexible knife
1 wooden spoon
1 tea towel
1 large tray or plate
Sources and Citations
VideoJug A video of making gnocchi. Shared with permission.