Gnocchi, an Italian Classic
My parents took their first trip to Europe a couple of years ago, spending a week in the Tuscany region of Italy. They both came back inspired by the Italian food they enjoyed and, as a result, started to make many of the Italian dishes they had while in Italy. This gnocchi is one of the dishes we started making as a result of their trip! The recipe is adapted from one by Lorenza de’Medici in her Tuscany The Beautiful Cookbook.
Tips for How to Make Gnocchi
To make the best gnocchi we’ve experimented with various ratios of potato to flour. It took several attempts to achieve what we’ve found to be the perfect ratio: what you want is a minimal amount of flour, too much and the gnocchi will be too dense.
The other trick to gnocchi, we’ve learned, is to use older potatoes, and to bake them, not boil or steam them, so that they get pretty dried out. Also, it helps to put them through a potato ricer for a smoother consistency. Gnocchi goes well with practically any good pasta sauce.
Potato Gnocchi Recipe
- 2 lbs whole baking potatoes
- 2 beaten egg yolks
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- Pinch of salt
- Your favorite pasta sauce (for example, this basic, delicious tomato sauce)
1 Bake the potatoes: Preheat oven to 350°F. Spear the potatoes with fork tines in several places around each potato to vent moisture as the potatoes cook.
Bake the potatoes in their skins until tender, about an hour. Let cool on a rack, cutting them open to help cool and let more moisture escape.
2 Mash and fluff potatoes: Scoop out the potatoes from their skins. Mash the potatoes and fluff them up with a fork into a large bowl.
(It works great to pass the potatoes through a potato ricer if you have one.) It is best to work with the potatoes when they are still warm.
3 Add flour, egg, salt, mix into a ball of dough: Add the flour, egg and a pinch of salt. Mix by hand until you have a nice pliable ball of dough. Do not over-mix.
4 Roll pieces of dough into long cylinders: Prepare a work area and dust it with flour. Take the dough, a piece at a time, and roll it out gently with your hands until you have rolls about 3/4 inch in diameter.
It is very important to keep a light touch while you are rolling the dough! Gently roll the dough with your fingertips while while exerting the lightest pressure outwards, not down, to draw the dough out.
5 Cut into pieces, and form indentations: Cut the tubes of dough into pieces about one inch long. Using either the tines of a fork or your fingertip, press against a piece of the dough and roll it slightly to form an indentation (good for catching the sauce).
As you make the gnocchi place them on a flat baking pan that has lightly dusted with flour or lined with wax paper.
At this point you can freeze the gnocchi ahead of time. Freeze them first on a floured or lined tray, then once frozen you can put them into a freezer bag for more easy storage. To cook, just put the frozen gnocchi into the simmering water for the next step.
6 Drop gnocchi into simmering water: Bring at 4 quarts of salted water (1 tablespoon of salt for every 2 quarts of water) to a boil in a saucepan.
Gently place the gnocchi, a few at a time, into the water. As soon as the gnocchi rise to the surface, remove them with a slotted spoon or spider strainer, shaking off excess water.
Place the gnocchi on a warm serving dish. Cook the remaining gnocchi the same way.
7 Serve with sauce: Top the gnocchi with your favorite (heated) pasta sauce and serve immediately.
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