I was showing my husband a vegetarian recipe book a week ago and pointed out a recipe that used gnocchi. He asked me what 'gnocchi' is and I told him it's a pasta made from potatoes and that I've tried it but didn't like it.
That got me started on looking for a decent recipe for gnocchi. I found many. Some had egg added, some didn't. Apparently, traditional Italian grandmothers would make it without egg. After reading this, I decided to try making gnocchi without eggs.
It was easy enough, but I won't hide the fact that it is quite time consuming. It is something that is probably best made on a weekend, in a double batch or more, and frozen for convenience. I simplified the method and the shaping process. The gnocchi turned out firm, with a nice bite and did not taste weird. Whether they turned out 'authentic' or not, I wouldn't know because it is not something I have eaten enough to compare. But it works for everyday Jills and Joes who just want decent homecooked meals.
So, here is my simplified recipe for gnocchi:
Serves 4 (I froze half the batch)
350g potatoes, peeled & washed
150 -170g plain flour (possibly more for flouring)
Salt & pepper
Two baking trays and baking paper
• Cut potatoes into chunks and put in a pot. Cover with cold water bring to a boil. Boiling them in cold water gives a better texture. Boil till potatoes just break apart when you put a fork through them.
• Drain and mash the potatoes as smoothly as you can. You don't want any noticeable lumps. NO MILK/BUTTER!
• Leave the mashed potatoes to cool to room temperature.
• Measure your flour in a bowl and prepare your work surface.
• When mashed potatoes are cool, slowly add flour and mix with a spoon. You want a soft dough that is very slightly sticky. You will probably have to use your hands to mix the dough towards the end.
* I was lazy and mixed the flour into the pot of mashed potatoes instead of using a bowl
• Now that you have your dough ready, it is time to flour your hands and your work surface.
• This is the fun part: Divide the dough into eighths and roll each portion on your floured surface until you get snake-like logs. Each log should be about 1.5cm thick (thinner if you want tiny gnocchi)
• Now use a non-serrated knife (butter knife is good) to cut pieces off the logs of dough. Each piece should be about 1.5cm wide.
• Use the knife to make a 'cross' or 'plus' design on each piece. You can skip this step. The grooves are supposed to help the gnocchi hold some sauce. This obviously isn't the traditional gnocchi shape. I tried doing that with a fork and became frustrated! This way is easier!
• The gnocchi is now ready to be boiled! (For freezing directions, scroll down)
• Put a pot of water on the stove and bring to a boil. Drop the gnocchi, in batches unless you have a wide pot, into the simmering water. The gnocchi should float to the surface after a few minutes. Leave them to cook for about 2 extra minutes after they float. Then remove them from the water with a slotted spoon and continue with the rest.
•Toss in a simple pasta sauce. Remember, I said 'toss' not 'drown'! Pictured here is a tomato, mushroom, sausage and rocket sauce.
• FREEZE: Put half of your gnocchi on a tray covered with floured baking paper. Arrange the gnocchi in a single layer and put the tray in the freezer. Once the gnocchi are frozen, you can transfer them to a ziplock bag and freeze for up to 6 weeks.
• MAKE AHEAD: You can make this ahead up to a few hours before cooking. But beware, the gnocchi could get stuck on the tray. Place the gnocchi in a single layer on a very well floured tray and put the tray in the fridge until you are ready to cook. By the way, I don't particularly recommend doing this.