I have been teaching a lot of gnocchi-making classes lately.
I adore traditional gnocchi made with waxy, yellow potatoes (nope: don’t use russets/baking potatoes). Though sweet potato gnocchi is wildly popular and the other day a plate of beet gnocchi made me smile—I am still a sucker for classic potato. Gnocchi lend themselves to a myriad of dishes, and are a fantastic candidate for those nights when you need dinner in a flash.
Just this morning I made a batch, to stock my freezer. AND I used eggs from Poppy—our Barred Plymouth Rock—with rich, yellow yolks. I make the gnocchi, lay it in a single layer on a cookie sheet and freeze them. Once frozen, I pop them into ziploc bags. When that night comes and I have no time/don’t feel like making dinner a grand affair—I just boil water, add salt, and toss in gnocchi straight from the freezer. As soon as they float, they are done. That simple.
If you just melt then brown some butter in a skillet and add some sage: you have a sauce in minutes. Most frequently, I serve gnocchi like this: I let them float, scoop them out then saute them briefly with a handful of mixed vegetables. In the picture above, gnocchi had a quick pan-visit with peas, beans and carrots. I topped it with a poached egg, though often I just slide a grilled sausage or baked fish fillet on the plate next to the gnocchi. Note: some vegetables need a little blanching before hitting the skillet. For example, I would give beans, carrots and broccoli a quick blanch—but not spinach, mushrooms or peas.
serves 10-12. OR fills 3, one quart Ziploc bags for my freezer.
2 LB yellow wax potatoes
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan or Grana Padano
Generous grinds of salt and pepper
2 cups flour
Semolina or Rice flour just for dusting
boil potatoes in salted water until you can easily pierce with fork. Peel, then put through potato ricer/food mill. Add S&P, eggs, cheese and flour and blend (I use my hands!). Plunk onto counter top and knead for 2-3 minutes, incorporating extra flour if dough is sticky. Don’t over-knead. Roll into a snake, you know: long logs of dough like the kind you made with play-dough as a kid. Your ‘snake’ should be 3/4 inch in diameter. Cut into 3/4 inch pieces. Using a gnocchi paddle or back of a fork: put gnocchi about an inch from end of paddle/fork, apply a little pressure then flick off end of paddle/fork. I always tell my students: do this with an attitude, and it will go smoothly. Don’t be timid when it comes to gnocchi, pretend you have done it a thousand times.
Once you have made all gnocchi, store on sheet tray sprinkled with rice or semolina flour (less gluten, so gnocchi won’t stick). Freeze on the trays, then bag for later. Or: add in small batches to boiling, salted water. Once they float, scoop them out and add them to a sauce (ideas: olive oil, S&P OR brown butter sage OR a quick Alfredo).