Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Sluttishly Simple: Gnocchi

If you can't decide whether to have pasta or potatoes for dinner, why not have both? Gnocchi are tiny Italian dumplings that have an undeserved reputation for being time-consuming and tricky to cook from scratch. They really aren't, especially if you keep it simple - this recipe just has three key ingredients. As you get more practiced, try adding spinach, ricotta or butternut squash.

Your gnocchi will (hopefully) be like light, velvet cushions, not the heavy, solid lumps that some shop-bought stuff can turn out to be. Don't worry too much about making them look pristine. I started to get annoyed that I couldn't get the fork marks perfect on each gnocchi until I realised that was very much a first-world problem. The gnocchi won't look uniform, but you won't care once you've stirred through your favourite sauce.

I made a simple tomato sauce with shallots, garlic, chilli, basil and plum tomatoes, but these would be lovely with pesto, butter and sage, or a creamy sauce. You can also add them to soups or stews.

Gnocchi (serves 2)

You will need:
  • 300g potatoes (about three large potatoes)
  • 100g plain flour
  • Half a beaten egg
  • Salt and pepper
Make it!
  1. Chop the potatoes into large pieces and boil for around 30 minutes in a pan of salted water until tender. Remove from the pan and set aside until you can handle them.
  2. Peel the skins and mash the potatoes while still warm. Don't overmash them or they'll turn to glue - you just want a nice even consistency with no lumps. Use a potato ricer or food processor if you have one. Leave to cool, or the egg will cook when you add it.
  3. When the mash is ready, add the flour, egg and seasoning, and bring together into a soft dough. Add the egg slowly as you may not need all of it.
  4. Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead. Divide into four pieces and roll each one out into a long sausage about 1cm thick.
  5. Cut each sausage into pieces around 2cm long. Refridgerate on a floured plate until dinner time.
  6. Take your proto-gnocchi out of the fridge and add the final touches. Shape each one into a crescent and press a fork onto one side to give the gnocchi its trademark ridges.
  7. Bring a saucepan of water to the boil and add the gnocchi in batches. Cook them for three minutes - they will rise to the surface about halfway through.
  8. Toss the gnocchi with your sauce and serve.

10 comments:

  1. I never knew it was so easy! I have half a bag of shop bought in the fridge but next time, I'm going solo!

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  2. That's it? Really? I don't believe you...

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  3. That's it! The tricky part is not making the gnocchi too sticky or too dry, but it just takes a bit of practice. The supermarkets want us to believe it's hard so we spend a millionty pounds on ready-made stuff...

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  4. How long does this keep for? I don't think I could manage to 'half a beaten egg' so I'd probably have to double the recipe - probably freezable, yes?

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  5. They don't keep for long - just overnight, I'd say. Freeze them uncooked in a single layer, then transfer to a container. You can cook them from frozen.

    Or make the amount above, and cook a teeny tiny baby omelette from the remainder of the egg.

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  6. I had a total fail when making gnocchi - didn't hold together when boiling so i got awful watery potato crap :( I'm too traumatised to try again..

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  7. Wow this looks awesome! I'll have to give it a go!!!

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  8. Oh Katie! Maybe more egg to hold it together? What a trauma though.

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  9. Gave this a try and although a bit more moist than ideal (forgot to leave skins on potatoes) was lovely with a tomato basil sauce. Will try again

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  10. Reading this yesterday gave me gnocchi cravings. Guess what I'm having for lunch today?!

    The recipe sounds fab, didn't realise it was so easy to make!

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