Updated: Jul 6, 2020
A trio of gnocchi recipes
We love pasta and an evening of preparing a fresh, homemade dish is an evening well spent for us, especially given how easy it is with my electric pasta maker. Every once in a while we decide to change up our Italian theme with fresh gnocchi, and although the hand rolling is high-maintenance, it is very tasty. (Special hint: we reduced the 'high-maintenance' by using a recipe that takes a lot less time, and results in a gnocchi that might be just as good as the traditional method!)
Regarding the type of potato for the traditional approach, you will find differing opinions as to whether Russet or Yukon Gold are the best options; add to that differing opinions on whether to boil or bake. In the end, it is a matter of preference, so take the strong suggestions as an opportunity to experiment and decide for yourself.
Once decided, there is not much to discuss going forward – mash, mix, cut and roll is pretty much the standard for making gnocchi. After flattening the potato and flour mixture (‘massa’), it is cut into long strips and then rolled into logs. We like to create a textured exterior on the gnocchi using a bamboo sushi mat.
We usually make a large batch so that some can be vacuum sealed for future cooking. So, we place the delicate finished product on baking sheets and place these in the freezer (still on the baking sheet) for half an hour and then ‘VacuSeal’ what we will use in the future. Our FoodSaver is becoming an indispensable item in the kitchen, particularly for Sous Vide cooking!
Our ‘go-to’ sauce for fresh gnocchi is homemade pesto. There is not an easier or more pungent pasta sauce, in my opinion. A quick ‘blitz’ of fresh basil leaves, a couple of garlic cloves and a few tablespoons of pine nuts, while drizzling EVOO into the food processor takes no time. And this is finished off with freshly grated cheese – we like a mixture of reggiano, locatelli and pecorino.
Sweet potatoes are also an option for fresh gnocchi, especially as a winter comfort dish. The finished product tends to be a bit starchier, and stands up better to more fragrant, but lighter sauces. Our favorite for sweet potato gnocchi is a sage and burnt butter sauce.
The ‘easy, peasy’ method for making gnocchi that might be considered radical (or heretic) involves using potato flakes. I subscribe to the theory of “KISS” – ‘keeping it simple simon’. So we often have a gnocchi dinner that takes a fraction of the time to make by using the same boxed flakes that produce mashed potatoes, mixed with flour, egg and water in a food processor.
Saving tons of time in making the gnocchi leaves more time for decadent sauces! We recently paired the ‘easy, peasy’ gnocchi with a lump crab meat and truffle recipe that was deliciously creamy and made equal parts spicy, aromatic and warm with the addition of red pepper flakes, white vermouth (dry) and tarragon.