Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Making Gnocchi

The other weekend when pondering what to make for dinner, I looked around our kitchen and saw we had a bag of potatoes and really not much else so I decided to make gnocchi. I looked at the recipe and it seemed doable until I got to the step where I had to add the flour to the mashed potatoes...for the quantity of flour the recipe said q.b. which stands for quanto basta and basically translates to "enough". This is a common notation for measurements in Italian recipes. It is as if the recipes assume that we all grew up in the kitchen helping our nonne (grandmas) and mamme (moms) make pasta and sauces and such. As I did not have any such exposure growing up, I just winged it and as a result my first batch of gnocchi had a much too high potato to flour ratio. They barely survived being cooked in the boiling water and were a mushy mess. Into the compost bin they went. I added more flour to the dough and it transformed into something much more malleable. Rolling the dough into a long, snake like shape and cutting it into small pieces reminded me of so many times during my childhood when I did very much the same thing with playdoh (so maybe I did have a little childhood gnocchi training after all).

My gnocchi - waiting to be cooked.

The cuoco (chef) and her gnocchi with a much deserved glass of vino.

Unfortunately, there are no pictures of the finished product. As soon as the gnocchi were done cooking (which is remarkably fast - it takes only 2-3 minutes after being dropped in the boiling water for the gnocchi to rise to the surface signalling they are done) I mixed them with the sauce and served them. Andrea ate his with a tomato sauce and I had mine with gorgonzola (if you are a fan of gorgonzola, the easiest sauce ever for pasta is to heat up a little milk and a hunk of gorgonzola cheese in a small sauce pan until the cheese melts and then pour it over your pasta. Yum!) much to Andrea's olfactory dismay.

This recipe made a ton of gnocchi and I found the leftovers to be even better the next day - it seems the gnocchi firmed up a little more being left overnight in the refrigerator. I also sauteed the gnocchi a little after cooking them in the boiling water. This gave them a nice, slightly crispy edge and immensely improved the overall texture and flavor.

I am excited to try these again. Next time, I would like to do spinach and ricotta gnocchi for a lighter take or gnocchi made with squash instead of potato like we tried last year at a restaurant up in the Dolomites.

I highly recommend trying your hand at this dish. It is an economical dish to make and it gives you an excuse to get your hands dirty and reconnect with childhood pleasures.

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