Prep time: 45 mins (30 minutes idle) Cooking time: 2 mins
Potato ricer (really, really essential, sorry)
Gnocchi board (optional)
For a really long time, I didn’t eat pasta. Not particularly high in nutrition or protein and made of refined white flour, I put it on the naughty food list and didn’t touch it for nearly five years. Yep. Five. Whole. Years.
Then, my Italian partner moved in with me and declared that he must have pasta at least once per week. So, make pasta I did, and with the first bite I knew that I was done for. I became a pasta fiend, devouring spaghetti every chance I got.
However, dried pasta soon wasn’t enough. I needed ALL the pasta. Gnocchi, ravioli, agnolotti, lasagna, orecchiette, casarecce, pappardelle and more! And I wanted it fresh, not out of a packet.
Unfortunately, here in Australia, all fresh pasta is made with eggs, even when it’s not supposed to have eggs, as in the case of gnocchi. Unless you are from Veneto, eggs have only been added to make gnocchi easier to make and store for a long time. They do not improve it, unlike some rich pastas, as they make gnocchi heavier, and the extra liquid means that more flour needs to be used, two things you definitely don’t want in potato gnocchi. Since there is really nothing tricky about the authentic recipe, there is no excuse for adding eggs when making gnocchi at home in my book. I encourage you to give it a go, even if it sounds daunting. I was a little scared of failure the first time I made them, but it was actually incredibly easy. I had perfect results the first time, and if you follow the instructions below, you till too!
This recipe is really more of a method than specific measurements. How much flour you will need really depends on humidity, the variety of potatoes, if they have been overcooked, undercooked, the brand of flour and even the temperature of the potatoes. I have provided a rough measurement, which is a good starting point, but ensure that you have extra flour on hand if needed, and don’t add it all at once.
1kg organic waxy potatoes, such as Desire or Nicola, washed, skins in tact
200g plain flour, plus more for dusting if needed
2 tsp salt
1. Bring large saucepan of water to boil over the stove. Add the potatoes, whole with skin on, and cook until just tender (they should be easily pierced with a butter knife, but definitely not cracking or falling apart). Depending on the size of your potatoes, this could take anywhere between 20 to 40 minutes. Try not to test them too much, as piercing the skin will let water into the potato flesh. Once tender, drain and leave until cool enough to handle, but do not let cool completely. Slightly warm (just above room temperature) potatoes make better gnocchi.
2. Remove the skins from potatoes and put through a ricer into a large bowl. Stir in salt using a fork, handling the potato as little as possible. You don’t want to remove the air.
4. Put a thin layer of the flour onto a wooden bench. Carefully tip the potato on top. Add more flour around the outside of the potato.
Using as light a touch as possible, work the flour into the potato until a smooth dough is formed. You want to use as little flour as possible and handle the dough as gently as possible. Once it holds together and is smooth it is done.
5.Cut the dough into 4 equal pieces. Take one piece and roll into a long rope around 1.5 – 2cm in diameter. Slice into 1.5cm pillows.
6. Take each pillow and roll quickly down a gnocchi board or a fork. Set aside on a floured tray.
After you have made a few gnocchi, it’s a good idea to test cook a few to make sure the dough is good before rolling out the rest the first couple of times you make them. Bring a pot of salted water to the boil. Lower the gnocchi in and remove as soon as they float to the surface with a slotted spoon, around 30-60 seconds. The gnocchi should hold their shape and definitely not disintegrate, but should be so soft when bitten into that they almost don’t need to be chewed. They should be light as light can be.
7. If the gnocchi are good, continue to roll out until all the dough has been formed. Ensure that the gnocchi are not crowded together and are placed only in single layers on the tray. If not cooking immediately, place in the fridge, but do not refrigerate more than a few hours.
I cook my gnocchi in small batches, removing them with a slotted spoon as I go and setting them on a plate. If you tip them into a strainer you will squash them. It doesn’t matter if they get a bit cold, you’re going to toss them in the pan with the sauce anyway.