Gnocchi for the masses

A gnocchi army!

Part of the reason I chose to call this blog Fictional Kitchen is that I really don’t have a kitchen of my own. However, my guy moved into his new apartment at the beginning of the month and I had free reign over the  kitchen for two weeks. It was incredibly fun but now I’m home again.

However, part of moving into a new apartment means throwing a party so everyone can see the place. I originally had the plan to make appetizers AND dinner AND dessert. Fortunately, my saner half talked me out of it. He originally wanted to order pizza but that’s not my style. We settled on Trader Joe’s for appetizers and an army of gnocchi made by yours truly.

Now I’ve made gnocchi with my mother a few times and I’ve watched her make them for years but I didn’t have a recipe on me. Some panicked text messages and an outline of recipe later, I was in the kitchen. I used the ratios from the new Smitten Kitchen cookbook, which I love. However, I find her technique of roasting potatoes slow and it leaves the potatoes a little too dry for my liking.

Getting prepared is often the hardest part

I boiled my potatoes in chunks and left them in the  colander for a bit to dry out properly. Gnocchi are not fussy foods. We have never bothered to put the ridges in our gnocchi which is supposed to make them “authentically Italian.”

However, my nonna doesn’t even make her own gnocchi let alone put ridges in them.

Smitten Kitchen came up with the brilliant idea of using a box grater instead of a food processor, which worked out well in the new minimalistic kitchen. I had bowls and wooden spoons but little in the way of appliances.

Don’t be afraid to play around with the flour ratios. It all depends on your potatoes and the weather. It shouldn’t be sticky but it shouldn’t be dense. They also freeze really well: just make sure to freeze them on the baking sheet and then slide into plastic bags for storage. Give it a go. Even if they aren’t perfect, they will still taste good!

I like gnocchi with a simple tomato sauce or pesto rather than the traditional blue cheese. Blue cheese is wonderful in the winter, though, so don’t disregard it. Sometimes I like to boil up a batch and dress the gnocchi with just olive oil. Then each person can add whatever topping they like. So many possibilities! All I know is that it was a big success at the party.

Potato Gnocchi

2 pounds Russet potatoes, peeled and cut in halves
1 large egg
1 tsp salt
1 1/4 to 1 1 1/2 c flour

Bring salted water to a boil in a large pot. Add potatoes to boiling water. Cook until the potatoes can be pierced easily with a fork. Drain potatoes into a colander and let cool until you can handle them. Using a box grater (or food processor if you are lucky enough to have one), grate potatoes through the large holes. Once potatoes are cooled, add the egg and salt. Mix until combine.

Add 1/2 c flour and mix gently. Continue adding flour by the 1/4 c until the dough is soft and slightly sticky. Knead the dough briefly until it can be rolled into a rope without breaking. Divide dough into quarters. Roll dough into long ropes which are about 3/4-inch thick. Cut into 1-inch pillows and line up on a floured tray. (NOTE: Freeze at this point whatever you don’t want to use that day.)

To cook the gnocchi, bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add a few gnocchi at a time into the boiling water. Cook the gnocchi until they float up to the surface, approximately 2 minutes. Scoop out and place in serving bowl while cooking remaining gnocchi. Dress with olive oil and whatever sauce you would like.

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Filed under Italian, Pasta

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