Gnocchi is beloved throughout Italy where the airy pillows of pasta are seen as a way to stretch the budget because they are an inexpensive way to quell hunger pains using only four humble ingredients. Potato gnocchi is probably the most common version today but durum wheat, chestnut, or barley flours were the go-to starches up until the mid-nineteenth century.
One of the first mentions of gnocchi was in an Italian cookbook written in the 14th century and it is believed that it was introduced to the country from the Middle East where similar recipes have existed for centuries. In the 20th century, Italians migrating to South America took their cherished gnocchi recipes with them and today, gnocchi is as popular in many South American countries as it is in Italy.
One of the most important things to avoid doing for a perfect plate of gnocchi is over-kneading the dough. Too much flour will make it tough and the general rule of thumb is to use one potato per person. Gnocchi can be frozen and used at a later time by first tossing the gnocchi with a dusting of flour and then distributing it in a single layer on a baking sheet and freezing it for at least two hours. At this point, transfer it to a covered container and freeze. The gnocchi should not be thawed, but instead boiled frozen in a pot of salted water.
- The basic recipe for gnocchi includes five large Idaho potatoes, three cups of semolina flour, a half teaspoon of salt, and one egg.
- First bring a pot of salted water to a rolling boil and add the potatoes. Boil them until fork tender, about 25 minutes. Transfer them to a colander and once they are cool enough to handle, peel off the skins and pat the potatoes dry with a paper or side towel.
- Rice the potatoes.
- Sprinkle a clean work surface with all-purpose flour and distribute the riced potatoes over the flour until it is about one inch thick. Top with the semolina flour and sprinkle with salt. At this point, add any ricotta, Parmesan cheese, dried herbs, or additional ingredients that you are using in your recipe.
- Use your fingers to create a well in the center and break the egg into it. Using a fork, slowly incorporate the potatoes and flour into the egg.
- Bring the dough together with your hands and knead until it comes together into a shaggy ball.
- Knead it gently and be careful not to overwork it. Once it has come together into a smooth ball, shape it into a rectangle on your work surface.
- Using a bench scraper or a sharp knife, cut it into 1-inch thick slices.
- Roll each slice out into a 1-inch thick rope. Using the knife or bench scraper, cut each rope into 1-inch long segments at an angle. The gnocchi can rest at this stage for up to 45 minutes.
- Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Boil the gnocchi in batches so as not to overcrowd it. Once it rises to the surface in about two to four minutes, transfer it using a slotted spoon or spider to a plate or baking sheet. Once all of the gnocchi is ready, incorporate it into your preferred sauce and cook for an additional two minutes.
Two Peas and Their Pod
Crisping gnocchi gives it an addictive, slightly crunchy texture in this recipe and the basil pesto adds both a bright flavor and pop of vibrant color. Get the recipe.>
Tomato sauce is a traditional gnocchi pairing. This recipe is a rustic way to celebrate gnocchi’s many virtues through the use of earthy tomatoes and a variety of herbs. Get the recipe.>
This is a lovely gnocchi recipe to celebrate the close of summer. Green garlic adds a zingy flavor and flash of color. Get the recipe.>
Gorgonzola is a funky addition to potato gnocchi, enhancing both its flavor and its texture with a silky cloak of sauce. Get the recipe.>
Gnocchi is not necessarily a dessert ingredient but the sweetness of apple butter brings it as close as it can get and the addition of sage keeps it rustic. Get the recipe.>
This is an exciting, full-blown gnocchi dessert recipe that is as sophisticated as it is fun for the palate. Add a dash of cinnamon to the cocoa for even more unexpected flavor. Get the recipe.
— Head photo: Chowhound.