You may be wondering just what in the heck gnocchi means (if not how to pronounce it)! Gnocchi are essentially little, Italian-style dumplings typically made with flour or potato. I think that those made with potato have a more interesting flavor and a lighter, softer texture. Gnocchi are a really fun substitute for pasta if you are the mood for something different. This recipe is more of a technique rather than a definite set of rules; it is based on touch and feel instead of strict measurements so it may take a bit of practice to get it right. Making gnocchi can be labor intensive so I like to serve it topped with a very quick and easy tomato-cream sauce. As an added bonus, they can be made ahead and frozen. Make and freeze a batch on a Sunday morning and you'll have a quick meal handy later in the week.
Bruschetta with White Bean and Rosemary Puree
Potato Gnocchi
Oven-Roasted Vegetables
Red Wine or Dark Beer


1 pound russet potatoes
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
a pinch of nutmeg
3/4 to 1 cup flour, plus more for dusting
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced or thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 teaspoon curry powder
a 14 ounce can of diced tomatoes
1/4 cup heavy cream
a good handful of fresh basil

Cooking Instructions

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Arrange the potatoes on a baking sheet. Bake until they are a bit overcooked (about 1 hour) and set aside to cool. When cool enough to handle, cut each potato in half, and scoop out the flesh. Pass the potato flesh through a potato ricer or coarse sieve into a large bowl. You should end up with about 2 cups.

Add the egg, salt, pepper and nutmeg to the potatoes and mix well. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of the flour over the potatoes and, using your knuckles, press it into the potatoes. Fold the mass over on itself and press down again. Sprinkle on more flour, little by little, folding and pressing the dough until it just holds together. If the mixture is too dry, add a little water. The dough should give under slight pressure.

Keeping your work surface and the dough lightly floured, cut the dough into 4 to 6 pieces. Roll each piece out into a rope about 1/2 inch in diameter. Cut into 1/2 inch long pieces (lightly flouring the gnocchi as you cut them). You can cook these as is or form them into the classic gnocchi shape with a gnocchi board or the tines of a large fork turned upside down. Rest the bottom edge of the gnocchi board or fork on the work surface, then tilt it at about a 45-degree angle. Take each piece of gnocchi and squish it lightly with your thumb against the board or fork while simultaneously pushing it away from you. It will roll away and around your thumb, taking on a cupped shape with ridges on the outer curve from the board. The indentation holds the sauce better and helps the gnocchi cook faster. (Shaping them takes some time and dexterity. Just keep practicing - they certainly don't have to look great to taste good! Sometimes, when I am in a hurry, I just take a fork and quickly mash it lightly on the tops of each of the gnocchi to make the indentation. It's not very traditional, but it still works fine for me.)

As you shape the gnocchi, dust them lightly with flour and scatter them on baking sheets lined with parchment paper or waxed paper. Cover with a kitchen towel and set aside. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Drop in the gnocchi and cook for about 90 seconds from the time they rise to the surface. Drain and set aside while you prepare the sauce.

In a large pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook stirring frequently for about 2 minutes until the garlic is soft but not browned. Add the crushed red pepper and curry powder and cook for another 15 seconds. Add the tomatoes along with their juice and simmer the sauce for about 10 minutes until it has thickened. Add the cream, season to taste with salt and pepper, and cook until the cream is heated through (without allowing the sauce to return to a boil). Tear the basil leaves by hand and add them to the sauce. Transfer the cooked gnocchi to the pan with the sauce and toss to coat thoroughly. Serve garnished with additional basil leaves or parmesan cheese.

Makes 4 servings



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To test if the dough is the correct consistency, take a piece and roll it with your hands on a well-floured board into a rope 1/2 inch in diameter. If the dough holds together, it is ready. If not, add more flour, fold and press the dough several more times, and test again.

If you will not be cooking the gnocchi until the next day or later, you can freeze them. After they have been rolled out and shaped, dust liberally with flour and distribute the gnocchi evenly among layers of parchment paper and then place in a airtight container and freeze until needed. Alternatively, you can cook them, drain and toss with a little olive oil. Let the gnocchi cool, and then refrigerate several hours or overnight. (To serve, dip in boiling water for 10 to 15 seconds to reheat and then toss with your sauce).

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