What's for Dinner: Potato Gnocchi


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Potato Gnocchi (Gnocchi di patate)

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Gnocchi are relatively easy to make and demand no special equipment. But they do require a tender touch. Overwork the dough, and the gnocchi will be chewy or tough.

The pillowy potato dumplings can be dressed in any number of sauces or flavored butters. Here, we pair it with garlic-free marinara.

Be sure to use a starchy potato such as russet; the starch is what holds the dough together. This recipe calls for boiling the potatoes, but you also can bake them whole until tender.

I'll be making this dish -- and giving out samples -- Saturday with my good friend (and exceptional cook) Josephine Coletti at the Pittsburgh Home & Garden Show at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center.

  • 1 1/2 pounds starchy boiling potatoes (such as russet)

  • Salt and pepper

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

  • Tomato Sauce (recipe follows)

  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Boil the potatoes, unpeeled, in abundant water. (Do not test them too often by puncturing them with a fork, or they will become waterlogged.) When cooked, drain them, and peel as soon as you can handle them. Puree through a food mill or potato ricer while still warm. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Add most of the flour to the mashed potatoes and knead into a smooth mixture. Stop adding flour when the mixture is soft, smooth and still slightly sticky. Shape it into foot-long sausage-like rolls about as thick as your thumb, then cut the rolls into 3/4-inch lengths.

Roll each piece of dough over a wooden paddle with ridges or over the tines of a fork to form grooves in the dough.

Drop the gnocchi, about 2 dozen at a time, into 5 quarts or more of boiling salted water. In a very short time they will float to the surface. Let them cook for just 8 to 10 seconds more, then lift them out with a slotted spoon and transfer to heated platter. Season with a little of the sauce you are using.

Drop more gnocchi in the boiling water and repeat the whole process until they are cooked. When all the gnocchi are done, pour the rest of the sauce over them and mix in all the grated cheese. Serve hot.

Serves 4 to 6.

-- "The Classic Italian Cookbook: The Art of Italian Cooking and the Italian Art of Eating" by Marcella Hazan (Ballantine, 1989)

Tomato Sauce (sughi di pomodoro)

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  • 2 pounds fresh, ripe plum tomatoes or 2 cups good-quality canned tomatoes, with their juice

  • 1/2 cup olive oil

  • 1/3 cup finely chopped yellow onion

  • 1/3 cup finely chopped carrot

  • 1/3 cup finely chopped celery

  • 2 teaspoons salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon or more baking soda

If using fresh tomatoes, wash them in cold water. Cut them in half, lengthwise. Cook in a covered saucepan or stock pot at a steady simmer for 10 minutes. Uncover and simmer gently for 11/2 hours more. Puree through a food mill, discarding seeds and skin.

Rinse and dry saucepan. Put in olive oil, then add the chopped onion, and lightly saute over medium heat until just translucent, not browned. Add the carrot and celery and saute for another minute. Add the pureed tomato, salt and baking soda and cook at a gentle simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes. (If using canned tomatoes, simmer for 45 minutes.) Stir from time to time while cooking.

Makes 6 servings.

-- "The Classic Italian Cookbook: The Art of Italian Cooking and the Italian Art of Eating" by Marcella Hazan (Ballantine, 1989)

recipes - whatsfordinner

Gretchen McKay: gmckay@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1419 or on Twitter @gtmckay.


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