Even though I grew up in an Italian household, I have never been a huge fan of pasta. Don’t get me wrong, I love the filled pastas – tortellini, ravioli, cannelloni, etc. but just regular ‘ol pasta…meh. However, when it comes to gnocchi, I just can’t get enough of it. Maybe that is because I have always loved potatoes, and those soft pillows that just soak in the sauce, have always been irresistible to me.
When I became gluten-free, my pasta options reduced significantly. Pasta is such a quick and easy meal to prepare when you don’t have as much time to spend in the kitchen as you would like, and it is so easy to dress up with veggies, meats, cheeses and various sauces. Plus my husband, born and raised in Italy grew up eating it 2 times a day. Like Roberto always says, you can eat pasta twice a day your whole life and never get bored of it because of all the various ways it can be prepared. I can’t say I agree, but I do enjoy the convenience of it once in a while. Commercially I can get corn pasta, in two shapes – spaghetti and elbows. That is fine, but sometimes you want something a little different!
(The First Attempt)
For New Year’s Eve 2011, when my step-daughter Gwen was visiting, we decided to try our hand at homemade gnocchi. I made a big mistake and mixed it in the food processor the first time. It turned out kind of gummy, but was still pretty good. We made the gnocchi gluten-free by using potatoes and potato starch. However, for me, the consistency was still too gummy – it wasn’t just the fault of the food processor.
Gwen was visiting again last week and wanted to make gnocchi again, this time instead of the potato starch, I suggested we use gluten-free oat flour. This made the gnocchi much more like I remember – a bit firmer and toothsome. We served it with a tomato sauce that Gwen and Roberto made on New Year’s Eve – it made a lot, so we froze the leftovers.
I also like these gnocchi served with brown butter cream sauce with truffle oil. When Roberto and I were in San Gimignano, in Tuscany, almost 2 years ago, we had the most amazing truffle gnocchi, and since then, I have been dreaming about it. The version we make at home comes pretty darn close!
Tonight we are going to have the leftovers with butter, peas and prosciutto. Like I said, so versatile!
Making homemade gnocchi is very easy and straightforward and much less time consuming than other types of homemade pasta. Since we have made it a few times, we no longer use a recipe, but this is a good starter recipe from Italian: The Definitive Professional Guide to Italian Ingredients and Cooking Techniques, Including 300 Step-by-step Recipes..
A note about the book – this book includes all the Italian classics, and has detailed process pictures as well. Roberto loves this cookbook because everything we have made from it turns out like an Italian in Italy made it.
Gnocchi di Patate
2 lbs waxy potatoes, scrubbed
1 TBS sea salt
2 – 2 1/2 cups of flour (we use gluten-free oat flour)
2 TBS butter
Place the un-peeled potatoes in a large pot of salted water, Bring to a boil and cook until potatoes are tender, but not falling apart. Drain, and peel the potatoes as soon as possible, while they are still hot.
On a work surface spread out a layer of flour. Mash the potatoes with a hand masher directly onto the flour. You can also use a food mill or ricer if you have those. Sprinkle the top of the potatoes with about half of the remaining flour and mix lightly. Begin to knead the dough, drawing in more flour as you knead. Keep doing this until the dough is light to the touch, no longer sticky or moist, and can be rolled easily. Do not overwork the dough, or the gnocchi will become too heavy.
Divide the dough into 4 parts. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a snake about ¾ inch thick, and cut the dough into ¾ inch long pieces. Hold an ordinary table fork, with long tines sideways. Once by one press and roll the gnocchi onto your thumb, making ridges on one side and a depression from your thumb on the other side.
Bring large pan of salted water to boil. Then drop about ½ the gnocchi in. When the gnocchi rise to the top, after about 3-4 minutes they are done. Scoop them out, allow them to drain and place in a serving bowl. Dot them with butter. Keep warm while remaining gnocchi are cooking. AS soon as they are done, stir in with other gnocchi and more butter. Then serve with extra butter and Parmesan cheese, tomato sauce or any other sauce you wish.