Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Gnocchi All'Italiana

Picture courtesy of Frieda Loves Bread

Anyone know what gnocchi (pronounced no-kee) is?  I didn't until just a few months ago.  I'd heard of it, but never really knew anything about it.  So, let me enlighten you.  Gnocchi is Italy's version of dumplings.  They are really versatile and can be made with a variety of ingredients and methods.  I've seen them made with mashed potatoes, as in this version, or with ricotta cheese or just flour (similar to the American dumplings). 

They can also be shaped a variety of ways.  Some are rolled on a fork to leave little grooves around the dumpling (I happen to think they look like little maggots :P), or piped out of a pastry bag.  The list goes on and on.  But regardless of how you make them, they are delicious!  I've used them in Italian soups as well as homemade turkey and chicken soups.  They can be used anywhere you would use noodles or dumplings.  I also think they would be delicious boiled then cooked in a little butter and nutmeg (similar to how the Germans cook spaetzle).

This is a really simple recipe.  I has only a few ingredients, and the most time consuming part is baking the potatoes (you can boil them too, but baking will give you a somewhat lighter dumpling).  There are still a few months left in "soup season", so give these a try before winter is over.  They also freeze well, so they can be made ahead!  Next time I'll share a great soup to plop these baby's in!

Gnocchi All'Italiana

3 medium potatoes
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 t. salt
2 1/4 c. all purpose flour

Tomato sauce
Parmesan cheese

Wash potatoes and prick skins with a fork. Wrap in foil and bake in a 400 degree oven for 1 hour or until soft. Cool until able to handle. Cut potatoes in half and scoop out flesh. Mash with fork or use potato ricer until you have 2 1/2 cups of mashed potatoes.

Place potatoes, eggs, and salt in mixing bowl and mix thoroughly. Add 1 1/2 c. flour, mixing well. Place dough on floured surface and add rest of flour, a little bit at a time.

Knead dough for 3-4 minutes. If dough becomes too sticky, sprinkle surface with more flour. Cut dough into six pieces. Roll dough into long sausage-like strips and cut into pieces 1/2-3/4" long.

On a floured surface, place the gnocchi cut side down and sprinkle lightly with flour.  With a floured finger, press down on each dumpling.  Remember to place them cut side down otherwise they'll look weird.

Place the gnocchi in a large pan with boiling water to which 2 T. of salt have been added. Place 1/3 of dumplings in boiling water and remove with strainer when they rise to top.  It only takes a few minutes.  Place in hot serving dish and repeat operation until all dumplings are cooked. Keep water boiling. Add sauce to dumplings and 2/3 of cheese, mixing well. Sprinkle rest of cheese on top. Serves 4-6.
If you are using them in soup, skip the Pot of boiling water and add them right to the simmering soup.

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