Updated: Oct 23, 2021
Gnocchi are nourishing and unpretentious, but they can be harder to make than many more sophisticated dishes. The difficulty lies in making the mixture light, yet tough enough not to disintegrate in boiling water. The good news is that with the right guidance and a few tricks it will be very easy to make the perfect fluffy gnocchi.
And this is all what this post is about! Let me guide you.
Gnocchi in Italy
In Italy, all northern regions have their special gnocchi, with or without egg. They are often dressed with melted butter and sage or with Fontina cheese and butter.
A great dish from Piedmont is gnocchi alla bava, in which the cooked gnocchi are placed in layers with fontina and butter and then baked for 10 minutes, until the cheese melts.
In Veneto, gnocchi alla cadorina are served with melted butter and ground cinnamon.
In Lombardy gnocchi di zucca are very popular. The cooked pumpkin is pureed and mixed with flour, eggs and spices. Then they are boiled and dressed in butter flavoured with garlic and rosemary.
In Friuli Venezia Giulia there are sweet gnocchi, they are made with potatoes, plums or apricot, dressed with butter, spices and sugar.
A speciality of Emilia-Romagna are the green gnocchi called malfatti, made with spinach and ricotta. And finally there are the semolina gnocchi from Rome.
The Art of Making Gnocchi at Home
This, so far has been my most popular cooking class. During the last few months I have made so many gnocchi that most of the time I have made my friends and neighbours very happy by giving them a little parcel with gnocchi inside. My small family of 3 can't have gnocchi so often
So, after all this gnocchi making abundance I have come up with some brilliant tips that I am sharing with you!
tricks and tips for making the perfect gnocchi !
Use the right potatoes: in Australia I prefer using Desiree potatoes or Dutch cream potatoes.
Boil the potatoes whole with the skin on, this way less water will seep in.
When testing for the doneness of the potatoes, try not to pierce too many times which allows the potato to absorb more water.
It’s best to use a potato ricer if you have one. The result will be fluffier.
Once you have passed the potatoes through the ricer, spread them on a wooden board and let them cool down for a few minutes. As they cool, they will also dry out as the steam evaporates. The wooden board will also absorb some steam.
Use a gnocchi board or a fork to create the ridges. They are not only for decoration, they serve to thin out the gnocco and to provide grooves to hold the sauce.
Always use a slotted spoon to remove the gnocchi from the cooking water, the gnocchi are too fragile and will likely break or mash together if you pour them into a colander.
Cook the gnocchi the same day you make them, within a few hours or they will turn into a darker colour and become hard.
If you make more gnocchi than you can eat in one sitting it freezes well. Spread out on a lightly floured tray and freeze. Once frozen they can be transferred to a container.
The right potatoes:
1 Desiree potatoes 2 Dutch cream potatoes
If you are interested in learning how to make gnocchi with me, register to the next event here
BAKED GNOCCHI ALLA SORRENTINA: RECIPE
Serves 4 - preparation time 1 hour - cooking time about 20 min.
750g medium Desiree potatoes (the ones with purple skin). In alternative you could use Dutch cream potatoes (large waxy oval potato with yellow flesh, thin skin and a rich, buttery taste.)
150g, 3/4 cup 00 flour or all-purpose flour + more for dusting
1 egg yolk, optional
1 teaspon Salt
A generous pinch of Black Pepper
A pinch of Nutmeg, preferably freshly grated
4 tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
½ Brown Onion, roughly chopped
1 fresh Red chili, optional
600g Passata (tomato puree)
½ cup Water
Salt & Plack Pepper
A pinch of Nutmeg, freshly grated
100g mozzarella cheese, torn into small chunks or grated
50g Pecorino or Parmigiano Reggiano, preferably aged for 24 months, freshly grated.
10 Basil leaves, roughly torn
Wooden board, a ricer or potato masher, a sieve, a bench scraper, a medium size pot to boil gnocchi in, a slotted spoon, a medium pot to cook the sauce, a Dutch oven or baking tray.
- 1 BOILING POTATOES
Add the potatoes – skin on and whole - to a pot of cool, salted water. Put the lid on and bring to the boil on a medium flame. Reduce the flame to a gentle simmer and cook for about 35 minutes, or until a fork can easily pierce a potato. Drain the potatoes when ready.
- 2 COOKING THE TOMATO SAUCE
While the potatoes are boiling, let's make the tomato sauce.
Place the oil, onion and garlic in a medium saucepan set over a medium heat. Cook for a few minutes until the onion becomes translucent. Add the passata and chili, stirring well. Finally add nutmeg, salt and black pepper to taste. Add the water and bring to the boil.
Cover with a lid, reduce the flame to a gentle simmer and allow the sauce to cook for 30 minutes, stirring from time to time. Add more water if you think that the sauce is reducing too much. Turn the flame off. Add half of the basil. Take a baking tray and place two ladles of tomato sauce – this will be the bed where we will place our boiled gnocchi.
- 3 MAKING GNOCCHI
Before starting to make gnocchi - or when you are half way - turn the oven on at 180C.
While hot, using a peeler or your fingers, remove the skin from the potatoes.
Mash the potatoes and spread them onto a wooden board to allow to dry and cool down. Season with a teaspoon of salt, a generous pinch of black pepper and nutmeg.
Sift in the flour and add the egg yolk. Knead the dough for a few minutes until it loses stickiness and becomes more solid. Scrape the board clean and incorporate all the flour into the dough.
Dust your working surface with flour. Slice the dough into 8 parts. Roll out 1 part into a lightly floured surface. Form a long sausage, about 1,5 cm thick. Slice the roll into 1,5 cm squares and set aside.
Gently press and roll each one onto a gnocchi board using only your thumb. With a quick downwards movement, flip it towards the end of the board.
If you are using a fork, hold it with the prongs resting on the work surface at an angle of about 45 degrees. Take each piece of dough and dust it with flour, then press it lightly with the thumb of your other hand against the inner curve of the prongs and, with a quick downwards movement, flip it towards the end of the prongs.
The gnocchi should be concave on the thumb side, and convex on the fork side.
The ridges are not only for decoration, they serve to thin out the gnocco and to provide grooves to hold the sauce.
Repeat with the remaining dough.
- 4 COOKING GNOCCHI
Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Add the gnocchi in 2 batches, stirring gently once or twice to ensure they are not sticking. Cook for 20 seconds after they rise to the surface. Remove with a slotted spoon and gently place in the tray with the sauce.
- 5 ASSEMBLING GNOCCHI ALLA SORRENTINA
Cover gnocchi with other 2 ladles of tomato sauce and stir gently.
Dress with half the mozzarella and half the Parmigiano. Cook the second batch of gnocchi and place them on top of mozzarella. Add more sauce on top. Dress with the remain mozzarella, dust with grated Pecorino or Parmigiano and cover with foil.
Bake for 10 minutes at 180C, until the mozzarella has melted. Remove the foil and finish under the grill at 250C for 3 minutes, until the cheese is golden and crispy.
Garnish with the remain basil and serve immediately.
Let's talk about wine!
A few great options to enjoy this recipe with would be:
- Fontanafredda "Tradizione" Barbera d'Alba -
- Trullo di Noha Negroamaro - on the heavier side, but would work perfectly -
- Trullo di Noha Negroamaro Rosato - lighter rose' , with a lot of flavour -
Hope you enjoy this recipe! If you make it, please let me know your thoughts and tag me on my Fb page Pasta Journey or my Instagram _pastajourney_ .
I would love to hear from you!