Sometimes it’s just the simple things in life that can make you feel so satisfied. For me, satisfaction comes from a simple meal prepared at home. I’m sure some of you have heard of gnocchi and I’m sure quite a few of you have eaten gnocchi but have any of you ever thought about creating gnocchi in your kitchen at home?
Gnocchi are small knobs of dough typically made from potato, boiled and then usually topped with some kind of sauce. The word gnocchi literally translates to ‘lumps.’ They are fond of being incredibly imperfect, perfect for the at-home chef looking to master cooking skills.
Now don’t get me wrong, there are master chefs out there who have been preparing gnocchi for so long that they come out perfect but no one is counting how many ridges are on each tasty dumpling you’ve made because they’re too busy eating them.
Gnocchi does take some time in the kitchen but nothing more than an hour or two. So turn on that new playlist you’ve just made and roll up your sleeves — it’s time to get your gnocchi on.
Simple Potato Gnocchi with Simple Tomato Sauce
Serves 2 to 4
1 lb. of potatoes — russet, Yukon, or even new potatoes will do
100 grams of all-purpose flour (about a heaping 3/4 cup of flour)
1 16-ounce can of whole tomatoes or diced tomatoes, with seasoning if desired
2 cloves white garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
Parmigiano Reggiano cheese for topping
• Place the potatoes in a large pot, cover with cold water and season with a good amount of salt. Bring to a boil and cook until soft and tender all the way through, approximately 30 minutes depending on the size of your potatoes. Do not under cook or the gnocchi will not be fluffy.
• While the potatoes cook start the sauce. In a deep skillet heat the tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat. Add the two cloves of garlic and the can of tomatoes. Bring to a light simmer, reduce the heat and cook for 30 minutes. Let the tomatoes reduce down. Use a fork or potato masher to break up the tomatoes. Leave on low heat until ready to serve.
• When the potatoes are done cooking allow to cool until they can be handled. Peel the potatoes using the back edge of a paring knife. Using a ricer, rice the potatoes. If you do not have a ricer, use a sieve and a spatula and push the potatoes through the sieve. Do not use a potato masher as this will overwork the potatoes. Place the potato onto a well-floured surface. Create a well in the center of the potato, add the egg, one-third of the flour, a nice amount of kosher salt and crushed black pepper. Using your hands start to incorporate the ingredients into the potato, adding the rest of the flour in parts. The mixture should come together and begin to create a dough. The dough should still feel wet but not sticky. If needed add more flour until a nice fluffy dough is formed. Form into a ball.
• Bring a pot of generously salted water to a boil.
• While waiting for the water to boil, cut the ball of dough into sixths. Flour the work surface and roll out each piece of dough into a long cigar, keeping the thickness around 1-inch. Cut into 1-inch pieces, the small dumplings should resemble little pillows. One can cook the dumplings just like this or if desired place a fork, with its back side facing up, onto the work surface. Take the gnocchi and using the thumb, gently press and roll in a downward motion along the fork. This should create an indent on one side and ridges on the other.
• Drop into the boiling water in batches and cook for 3 to 5 minutes. The gnocchi will begin to float when they are cooked.
• Finish the tomato sauce with salt and pepper to taste. If it’s too thick, add some of the cooking water from the gnocchi. Gently toss the gnocchi in half of the sauce. Top with remaining sauce and freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano.
Note: The gnocchi can be gently pan fried in butter or olive oil after boiling, before tossing with the sauce. This adds a nice crispy texture to the dish.