Gnocchi is a form of Italian pasta with its origins in the Middle East and introduced to Italy during the Roman times. Usually made with potato, there is a lot of scope for variations.
Italian food guru Gennaro Contaldo has created a very entertaining video about how he makes this delicious type of pasta. If you don’t have one already, take his advice and buy a potato ricer. They really are necessary to get the lightest fluffiest gnocchi.
As with other mashed potato dishes, they are best prepared with dry flowery potatoes to keep a light texture. Russet potatoes are a good choice, as are Désirée and Maris Piper. Yukon Golds also work. Do not use a waxy potato as these result in a chewy, almost glutinous texture to the gnocchi. I learnt that the hard way!
While commonly made with potatoes, variations are possible and very much part of gnocchi’s heritage. In fact, according to the International Potato Center, using potato is a relatively recent innovation, appearing about the 16th century.
From the photo you will deduce that I have deviated from standard potato recipe. As sweet potatoes are much more healthy than normal potatoes, I used 400g potatoes, 400g sweet potatoes, plus about 200g of carrots, which added an interesting colour component.
Another variation I tried was beetroot and ricotta gnocchi. The texture was very different, not so fluffy, but so delicious. And for more of Gennaro, I was very much inspired by him for this Gnocchi Al Forno.
- 1.5 kg potatoes
- 2 egg yolks
- Pinch of nutmeg
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp ground pepper
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- Preheat the oven to 200 degC.
- Wash the potatoes and pierce multiple time with a fork (to allow steam to escape during cooking).
- Roast the potatoes on a rack for 45 minutes.
- When just cool enough to handle, cut in half and scoop out the potato flesh.
- Use a ricer (or masher) to mash the potatoes, but keep them aerated. Allow to cool.
- Lightly whisk the egg yolks, nutmeg, and seasoning
- Spread the riced potato on a large flat surface and drizzle over the egg yolks.
- Sprinkle a cup of flour over the mixture and fold to combine.
- Add more flour and fold until it gets firm enough to work with and roll out. Probably only need another half cup.
- The combining and folding should only take 3 minutes or so. It is important not to knead too much. We only want to mix the ingredients, not develop the gluten.
- Cut off about a 1/8 of the dough and roll into a cylinder of 15mm in diameter.
- Cut cylinders into 1 cm sections to give the final gnocchi shape.
- You can shape the gnocchi further using a fork to make some grooves, depends on how much time you have.
- Repeat for the remaining dough.
- Bring a large pot of water to the boil. Add a sprinkling of salt.
- Add the gnocchi to the boiling water
- When individual pieces of gnocchi rise to the top, they are cooked. Scoop them out of the water with a slotted spoon.