Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Gotta Get that Gnocchi

I'd like to dedicate this post to my good friend Laura who cooked with me this week.

We tackled a pasta that is often only found in restaurants. Or at the very least, it's something that really isn't as good when it's store-bought. 

I've always had an interesting relationship with gnocchi. When I was little, I loved it because it was gummy and starchy and I could pick it up with my fingers when Mom wasn't looking and it wouldn't be too noticeable because it fit perfectly in my mouth sans slurping. The downside: no good the next day, so no hope of it showing up in the lunch box.

The type Laura and I made, however, are still perfect the next day. And unless you're feeding an army (we served 5), you'll have leftovers; these babies are filling. 

Though time-intensive, this is an easy hands-on project when you're looking for an impressive home-cooked meal that's sure to please the traditionalist pasta crowd.

  1. Boil potatoes.
  2. Peel potatoes.
  3. Mash/cool potatoes.
  4. Mix dough.
  5. Cut.
  6. Cook.
  • 2 1/2 pounds Russet potatoes
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • ricott

1) Fill a pot half full with cold water. Place the potatoes in it and bring to a boil. Cook until a fork inserts easily, 40 minutes to 1 hour, depending on the size of the potatoes. Don't peel beforehand--you risk them becoming waterlogged, which is not conducive to making gnocchi.

2) Peel the potatoes as soon as they come out of the pot. Again, this helps with the texture and consistency of the final product. The extra cooking time isn't desired.

3) Mash the potatoes until few lumps remain, spreading them out in a flat pan or on a cutting board. Cool completely (about 30 minutes) before continuing.

4) Start a large pot of water boiling on the stove.

5) Place all ingredients in a large bowl. The original recipe suggested mixing everything together on the counter, like a traditional pasta, but I'd worry about the egg sliding off the counter. Blend until thoroughly combined.

6) Turn the dough out onto the counter and knead gently, adding more flour if it gets too sticky. Pull off a small piece and drop into the boiling water. If it falls apart, knead for another minute before testing again. If it holds together, boil until it floats, taste--for quality control, of course, and continue to step 7.

7) Shape into a flattened round. Cut into eighths. Roll each piece into a rope between 1/2 and 1 inch wide. Cut into 1/2 inch segments.

Keep the counter well-floured during the process--this dough will definitely stick.
8) Optional: roll against the back of a fork to get the characteristic grooves. It's definitely preferable to do this if you're working with someone; alone it would quickly become too time-consuming.
It's easier if you use a longer-tined fork.
9) Drop the gnocchi into the pot in batches. Essentially, boil one rope's worth after it's complete. By the time you've finished shaping the next one, you'll have cooked the previous one and brought the water back to a boil.

They'll need a minute or two more after they've all floated to the surface like the ones in the lower left.
10) The cooking time is highly debatable. If you like them doughy, cook only until he float and the strain them out. I found that I liked them a little firmer, so I would set a timer for 5 minutes from the time I dropped them in.

11) Serve immediately topped with sauce and plenty of cheese (we used ricotta and shredded Parmesan-like cheese). My quicky recipe is below.

Embellished Eggplant Sauce 

  • 1 large eggplant
  • 1 jar tomato sauce


1) Roast the whole, unpeeled eggplant in a 400 degree oven for approximately 40 minutes, or until a fork inserts easily. 

2) Peel while hot, using a small paring knife to aid if necessary. 

3) Cut into 1/2- to 1- inch cubes and place in a medium sauce pan with the jar of tomato sauce, using less if it becomes too soupy for your taste. Personally, I like a chunky sauce, and it works well with the gnocchi, so I only used half the jar. 

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