How to Make Gnocchi

Ever encountered a food you find intimidating (and hard to pronounce), so you never make it at home because you think it’s super fancy and challenging to make? Then you realize it actually is pretty easy to do a homemade version. Say buongiorno to gnocchi.

Gnocchi are small, pillow-y potato dumplings. Usually served with a tomato sauce, pesto, or butter and cheese, gnocchi is the pasta-alternative for those wanting a heartier, but still delicate, dish.

I made my first attempt at homemade gnocchi, and documented the steps for you! Without further ado, let me chronicle Gnocchi Night:

The first thing you need to do is enlist two of your best girlfriends to help you. This lets you call a random Saturday night as Gnocchi Night. The extra set of hands will also come in handy for amateur gnocchi makers like me.

Buy 3 lbs of russet potatoes, and boil until tender.

Peel the skin off and do NOT pull a Snoop Dogg (don’t drop it while it hot)

Furiously mash the potatoes. In an ideal world, you will have a ricer (or you will remember to bring your masher) but since this is your first attempt at gnocchi, you realize that you can just call your lumpy dumplings “rustic”

Transfer to a bigger bowl (you should’ve used a giant bowl to start with, doh!) and add 1 cup parmesan cheese, 1 cup sifted all-purpose flour, and 1/4 tablespoon each of salt and pepper. Mix well until the dough is smooth and just slightly sticky (you may need to add more flour)

Take a moment to smile for the camera as you roll the dough into long logs (about 1 inch in diameter). Appreciate the extra set of helping hands. Friends make everything more fun!

Now ignore those friends as they laugh at and re-do the logs you made (“it looks like a snake that just fed on something”)

Cut the logs into 1-inch pillows, and roll each at the back of a fork to make ridges

Don’t worry if the gnocchi are uneven! This is your first time after all, and remember – you are going for “rustic”

To cook the gnocchi, simply boil some water with salt and drop the gnocchi in. They will float to the top as they cook. Stir gently, and cook for only a couple of minutes. We served the gnocchi with a few drops of truffle oil…

… and more parmesan cheese.

Each bite was soft and delicate, and I loved the simple parmesan flavor. It was a very encouraging first attempt at making homemade gnocchi. Next time I will cut the gnocchi into smaller bites, and also experiment with different cheeses, flavors, and sauces.

One of the things that inspired me to venture into gnocchi-making was receiving a recipe for Davio’s Homemade Potato Gnocchi. Executive Chef Rodney Murillo is one of the participating chefs at Share Our Strength’s Taste of the Nation fundraiser, which I am attending in a couple of weeks. Below is the original recipe, but I made some adjustments as I indicated above.

Homemade Potato Gnocchi

10 lbs Russet Potatoes
7 Whole Eggs
10 Cups Sifted Flour
7 Cup Parmesan Cheese (Grated)

Boil Potatoes until tender. While hot, strain, peel and put through ricer. Set aside, let thoroughly cool (this can be done the day before). On a board, form a “mountain” with cooled “riced” potatoes. Add sifted flour, parmesan, salt and pepper. Make a hole at the top of the mountain and add the eggs into hole. Working from the eggs out, begin mixing eggs with potato until well blended. Cover with a slightly damp cloth or a bowl and let rest for 30 minutes. Roll dough into 2 foot long rolls about the size of a quarter in diameter. Cut into ½ inch pieces. Delicately dust with flour and place into a plastic container (only one layer with plenty of room). Cover and Freeze until ready to cook. (Once frozen, the gnocchi can be transferred into zip lock bags, the gnocchi can be kept frozen up to one month).

If you’re interested in Taste of the Nation, it is Boston’s largest hunger fundraiser, and it’s going to be held on April 14, 2011 at the Hynes Convention Center. The event will raise the critical funds needed to support Share Our Strength’s efforts to end childhood hunger in Boston and across the nation by 2015. You can find more info at the event site. I am looking forward to attending it!

I am also looking forward to eating more gnocchi.

Do you like gnocchi? Have you ever made it at home? If you have any favorite recipes, please post a link in the comments below – I’d like to try more variations!


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