Gnocchi always intimidated me, until I finally tried making them.
They require a little bit of technique and get easier with experience, but as it turns out they are quite easy to prepare.
One of the great things about making gnocchi is that this is definitely something you can have your kids help to make if they’re interested. I’m looking forward to when my son is old enough to roll out snakes of dough for me!
I like serving this with a pesto sauce (pictured, accompanied with sauteed green snap beans), but it would also be great tossed with your favorite tomato sauce or even just some good olive oil and Parmesan cheese. Just use whatever suits your fancy — or that your kids will enjoy. 🙂
NOTE: One great tip I’ve read is to actually roll, cut, texture and cook a single gnocchi before continuing to prepare the rest, just to be sure the dough is the right consistency to hold together and give you a nice fluffy pillow once cooked. If it is too mushy or falls apart, add a little bit more flour to your dough. This way you can fix the problem before having made up your whole batch.
So, without further ado…
2 lbs – russet potatoes, washed
1 1/4 c – unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
1 tsp – table salt, plus more for cooking liquid
Heat oven to 400 degrees, then bake potatoes directly on oven rack for 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on their size, until a fork or metal skewer slides in easily.
Peel the potatoes completely. Since will still be still hot, try holding the potato in a folded up kitchen towel as you peel. You want to work with warm potatoes in the dough, so don’t wait until the potatoes are completely cool to peel them.
Rice peeled potatoes into a large bowl, using a ricer or food mill.
Let riced potatoes cool until no longer hot, about 15 minutes.
Sprinkle 1 1/4 cups flour and 1 teaspoon salt over warm potatoes, then work mixture into a soft, smooth dough using your hands. If dough is too sticky (which is often the case), add more flour as needed. Don’t overwork the dough, just get the flour and potatoes incorporated well.
Roll about one-quarter of dough into a long 3/4-inch-thick rope. If the rope won’t hold together, return it to bowl with remaining dough and work in more flour as needed.
Cut your rope of dough into 3/4-inch lengths.
Holding a fork in one hand (or a butter paddle, if you have one), press each piece of cut dough against the ridged surface with your index finger to make an indentation in the center. Roll dough down and off ridges and allow it to drop to work surface. This is easier than it sounds, and this step can be skipped if you want, but the texture does make sauce stick better.
Repeat this process with the rest of the dough until all is rolled, cut, and textured. (If you are preparing ahead of time, at this point your gnocchi can be placed in a single layer on a baking sheet and refrigerated for several hours. Or, the baking sheet can be placed in freezer for about 1 hour before transferring partially frozen gnocchi to plastic zip-top bag or container, sealed, and frozen for up to 1 month.)
When you’re ready to cook, bring 4 quarts of water to low boil in large pot. Add 2 teaspoons salt or to taste.
Add about one-third of the gnocchi and cook until they float, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes (about 3 minutes for frozen gnocchi).
Retrieve gnocchi with slotted spoon or spider and transfer to a warm bowl or platter, then repeat cooking process with remaining gnocchi.
Toss with your sauce of choice, and eat!
Once you get this technique down, feel free to experiment with it. You can add different seasonings to the dough, try using whole wheat flour, give it a shot using sweet potatoes, or just cut them into larger or smaller pieces to see if you have a preference.