October 14, 2021
Gnocchi is a deceptively easy food to make. Unlike other pasta varieties that may require expensive or hard-to-use equipment, gnocchi comes together with your two hands and a fork (a pastry scraper won’t hurt, either).
In addition, to make gnocchi you only need basic culinary skills, a bit of patience, and perhaps a touch of artistic flair. After all, those beautiful little lines on the surface of gnocchi that give it such delectable texture can be made by hand using a fork.
This tutorial will show you how to mix, roll, cut, and decorate gnocchi. Give yourself time and follow the steps carefully, and you’ll see how this recipe is so simple and straightforward that you’ll later be able to do it practically from memory. As with most acts of pasta-making, it’s all about attention to detail, the right ratios, and a strong desire to create perfectly chewy al dente bites that will leave your friends saying, “You really made this?”
But let’s take one step back. Perhaps you’ve come to this tutorial asking yourself, “What is gnocchi?” or “What is gnocchi made of?” It isn’t the most widely available pasta variety, and we don’t see recipes with gnocchi as often as we do, let’s say, spaghetti with meatballs.
Gnocchi are tiny Italian dumplings customarily made of a mix of potatoes and wheat flour. Like other types of pasta, gnocchi goes with a variety of sauces. We’ve seen gnocchi recipe ideas that range from tossing the dumplings in classic marinara to others that sautee them in oil, herbs, and vegetables. Sound appetizing? Read on as we get into how to make gnocchi. Now’s as good a time as any to start enjoying this delicious comfort food.
Easy gnocchi recipe
Preparation time: 45 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Total time: 75 minutes
- 4 large russet potatoes (roughly 2 pounds)
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting surface
- 1 teaspoon salt, plus more for boiling water
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 cup Ricotta cheese, strained
- Preheat the oven to 450˚F.
- Wash the potatoes and poke holes in them using a fork.
- Place the potatoes on a baking sheet and bake them in the oven for 45-60 minutes. To check their progress, poke a potato with a fork. If it breaks open easily, it’s ready.
- Wait until the potatoes are cool to the touch, and peel them.
- Once the potatoes are almost cool, start your boiling water. It should be heavily salted.
- Cut the potatoes into big slices and then use a potato ricer to gently press the potatoes into a mash. You can do this on a clean countertop.
- Drizzle 1 beaten egg over the mashed potatoes, and then drop on some dollops of ricotta cheese on top.
- Combine the dry ingredients (pepper, flour, and salt) and sift over the potato mash. If you don’t have a sifter, you can use a fine-mesh strainer. The important thing is not to dump all of the flour in at once.
- Use a pastry knife, bench scraper, or your hands to mix everything together.
- Gently knead the dough.
- Once the dough has formed, divide it into eight loosely formed balls so that you can work in sections. Dust your countertop with flour to keep the dough from sticking.
- Start with one ball of dough, and use your hands to roll it into a “rope” around 1 inch thick.
- Using a knife or bench scraper, cut the dough rope into 1-inch pieces.
- Technically, your gnocchi is ready to be boiled at this point in the process, but if you want to give it some texture, put some flour on the prongs of a fork and gently press the prongs against the top of each gnocchi, imprinting them.
- Working in batches, boil the gnocchi. Don’t add in too many at a time, or they may start to stick together. They will float to the top of the water, and once they do, cook them for 1 minute longer. Then use a slotted spoon to remove the cooked gnocchi from the boiling water, draining them. Repeat this process with the next batch.
Chef’s tip: Have a place to put your cooked gnocchi while finishing the remaining batches. This can be a plate or, if you already know what type of sauce you’re going to serve them with, you can put that sauce into a skillet and add the cooked, drained gnocchi to it. When you’ve finished cooking and adding all the gnocchi to the sauce, you can briefly turn on the stove and stir the sauce and gnocchi together over medium heat.
Recipe adapted from Natasha’s Kitchen
Nutritional values per serving
Fat: 2 grams
Saturated Fat: 1 gram
Cholesterol: 24 milligrams
Sodium: 311 milligrams
Carbs: 33 grams
Protein: 6 grams
Sugar: 1 gram
Fiber: 2 grams
Iron: 2 milligrams
Secrets for the perfect gnocchi
- Be sure to work in batches when making the dough and boiling the gnocchi. You will have too much dough to work with all at once, and you’ll get done faster if you work piecewise instead of trying to get everything done in one shot. The same goes for boiling. If you boil all the gnocchi at once, you may end up with a messy lump of cooked dough.
- Don’t try substituting flours without first finding a recipe that can guide you through doing so. Part of the beauty of using wheat flour in gnocchi is that it holds things together and provides that delicious pillowy texture. Non-wheat and gluten-free flours don’t hold up well as well, unfortunately.
Ways to shape gnocchi
Fork method: This method gives gnocchi a restaurant-ready look. As explained above, press the floured prongs of a fork gently into the top of each gnocchi before boiling.
Finger indent method: This method gives gnocchi a homemade look. Instead of pressing fork prongs into the top of the gnocchi, indent them lightly with your fingertip. You can make a similar divot by using the fork’s top end (not the prongs).
How to serve gnocchi
Gnocchi with marinara: Gnocchi with tomato sauce is one of the most classic gnocchi meals. Simply toss the gnocchi in a skillet with the sauce to heat and incorporate.
Gnocchi with pesto: Another one of the most common gnocchi pasta recipes, this pesto sauce variation entails lightly tossing the gnocchi with prepared pesto sauce, which usually comes in a paste made from basil, garlic, parmesan, and olive oil.
Gnocchi sautee: Heat some olive oil in a skillet and cook the gnocchi until golden on all sides. Add in garlic, shallots, and other quick-cooking vegetables like cherry tomatoes, spinach, or mushrooms. You can add a splash of wine, fresh-cut herbs, or some feta or parmesan cheese.
Storing and reheating instructions
After forming the gnocchi (but before boiling them), you can store them in the freezer. Place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and dusted with flour. Then, place the baking sheet with the gnocchi in the freezer. Once frozen (roughly two hours later), you can move the gnocchi to a freezer bag.
Is gnocchi healthier than pasta?
That depends on your definition of “healthier.” Gnocchi contains grains, proteins, and carbohydrates, and, like most homemade meals, this dish has no additives or preservatives. Similarly, traditional pastas are high in carbs, grains, and certain proteins, like gluten. They also historically contain eggs. Our conclusion: The ingredients in both dishes are pretty similar, so the nutritional value shouldn’t vary much.
What’s the best flour to make gnocchi?
Some people like all-purpose flour, others like 00 flour, and some even recommend a cake flour mix. That said, non-wheat or gluten-free flours may not hold up well during the boiling stage.
What kind of potatoes do you use for gnocchi?
Russet potatoes are an excellent option for gnocchi.
How long should I cook gnocchi?
Gnocchi boils quickly, in just a few minutes. As mentioned above, you should wait until the gnocchi float to the surface of the boiling water and then cook them just one minute longer.
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