My parents took their first trip to Europe a couple of years ago, spending a week in the Tuscany region of Italy. They both came back inspired by the Italian food they enjoyed and, as a result, started to make many of the Italian dishes they had while in Italy. This gnocchi is one of the dishes we started making as a result of their trip.
A Classic Italian Gnocchi Recipe
To make the best gnocchi, we've experimented with various ratios of potato to flour. It took several attempts to achieve what we've found to be the perfect ratio: What you want is a minimal amount of flour; too much and the gnocchi will be too dense.
The Trick to Making the Best Potato Gnocchi
The other trick to gnocchi, we've learned, is to use older potatoes, and to bake them, not boil or steam them, so that they get pretty dried out. Also, it helps to put them through a potato ricer for a smoother consistency. Gnocchi goes well with practically any good pasta sauce.
What Are Gnocchi?
Although gnocchi are associated with pasta, they are not pasta. Gnocchi are dumplings, most commonly made with potatoes. Their origin goes back to Roman times without potatoes, but somewhere around the 16th century, cooks in northern Italy added potatoes to the mix.
Many varieties now exist, including pumpkin ricotta, spinach ricotta, and semolina gnocchi. Note that sometimes when there is no potato in a gnocchi recipe (such as the ricotta versions), you may see the term gnudi used instead of gnocchi.
Why Use Egg Yolks, Not the Whole Egg?
You can make gnocchi with a whole egg, but using just the yolks from two eggs make them more tender and a little richer.
Troubleshooting Tips for Potato Gnocchi
- Use a potato ricer; otherwise, you’ll have gluey potatoes.
- Don’t overwork the dough.
- Don’t have the water at a rolling boil. Have it at a hard simmer (medium bubbles, not huge busy ones). A simmer will keep the delicate gnocchi more intact and keep them from being mushy.
- Use russet potatoes, which have more starch.
How to Make Gluten-Free Gnocchi
Potatoes have no gluten, but this recipe includes flour, so it does have gluten. For gluten-free gnocchi give our Cauliflower Gnocchi a try.
How to Freeze Gnocchi
Freeze gnocchi uncooked. Place the uncooked gnocchi on a lightly floured cookie sheet in a single layer and put in the freezer until the dumplings freeze. Remove from the freezer and place the gnocchi in a freezer-safe zipper bag with the air squeezed out or a freezer-safe tightly sealed container for up to three months.
Do not defrost frozen gnocchi before cooking. They can go straight from the freezer into the simmering water, following the directions in Step 6.
The Best Sauces to Serve With Gnocchi
- Basic Tomato Sauce
- Easy Make-Ahead Alfredo Sauce
- Roasted Red Pepper Pasta Sauce
- Butternut Squash Parmesan Sauce
- Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto
More Classic Italian Recipes to Make
This recipe is adapted from one by Lorenza de'Medici in her book "Tuscany The Beautiful Cookbook."
Preheat the oven:
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Bake the potatoes:
Spear the potatoes with fork tines in several places around each potato to vent moisture as the potatoes cook.
Bake the potatoes in their skins until tender, about an hour. Let cool on a rack, cutting them open to help cool and let more moisture escape.
Mash and fluff the potatoes:
Work with the potatoes when they are still warm. Scoop out the potatoes from their skins. Mash the potatoes and fluff them up with a fork into a large bowl.
(It works great to pass the potatoes through a potato ricer if you have one.)
Add the flour, egg, salt and mix into a ball of dough:
Add the flour, beaten egg yolks, and pinch of salt. Mix by hand until you have a nice pliable ball of dough. Do not overmix.
Roll pieces of the dough into long cylinders:
Prepare a work area and dust it with flour. Take the dough, a piece at a time, and roll it out gently with your hands until you have rolls about 3/4 inch in diameter.
It is very important to keep a light touch while you are rolling the dough! Gently roll the dough with your fingertips while exerting the lightest pressure outwards, not down, to draw the dough out.
Cut the dough into pieces and form indentations:
Cut the tubes of dough into pieces about 1 inch long. Using either the tines of a fork or your fingertip, press against a piece of the dough and roll it slightly to form an indentation (good for catching the sauce).
As you make the gnocchi, place them on a flat baking pan that has been lightly dusted with flour or lined with waxed paper.
At this point, you can freeze the gnocchi ahead of time. Freeze them first on a floured or lined tray; once frozen, you can put them into a freezer bag for more easy storage. To cook, just put the frozen gnocchi into the simmering water for the next step.
Drop the gnocchi into simmering water:
Bring 4 quarts of salted water (1 tablespoon of salt for every 2 quarts of water) to a boil in a saucepan.
Gently place the gnocchi, a few at a time, into the water. As soon as the gnocchi rise to the surface, remove them with a slotted spoon or spider strainer, shaking off excess water.
Place the gnocchi on a warm serving dish. Cook the remaining gnocchi the same way.
Serve with sauce:
Top the gnocchi with your favorite (heated) pasta sauce and serve immediately.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 3g||4%|
|Saturated Fat 1g||4%|
|Total Carbohydrate 56g||21%|
|Dietary Fiber 4g||15%|
|Total Sugars 2g|
|Vitamin C 13mg||63%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|