Tired of pasta and don’t feel like making a risotto? This is my go-to for pasta night here. My kids LOVE Gnocchi!
Gnocchi (pronounced nee-okkee) are an excellent alternative: They’re fantastic with all sorts of sauces, from a simple summer tomato sauce to the richest winter meat sauce. Florentines call them topini (field mice), because the home made ones vaguely resemble mice in size and shape. This can produce a certain amount of confusion outside of Tuscany; one of my wife’s aunts once caused a stir in a restaurant in Rome when she saw someone else eating gnocchi and asked for topini. The waiter said there weren’t any, and when she insisted there were, went to get the owner, who stiffly informed her that there were no mice in his restaurant. Eventually the misunderstanding was cleared up and she had her topini.
Basic Potato Gnocchi
2 1/4 pounds, mealy potatoes, peeled
About 1 1/2 cups flour (see note below)
A pinch of salt
In making gnocchi you should steam the potatoes rather than boil them. If you do not have a steamer, put the potatoes in a metal colander, set the colander in a spaghetti pot, fill the pot with water to just below the colander, and set the pot, covered, to boil. The potatoes will be done in 30-45 minutes, when a skewer penetrates but they are still firm. Peel them and mash them while they’re still hot (a potato ricer works very well here). Season the potatoes with a pinch of salt and slowly knead in enough flour to obtain a fairly firm, smooth, non-sticky dough — exactly how much flour will depend upon how moist the potatoes are.
Roll the dough out into snakes about as thick as your finger, cut the snakes into one-inch pieces, and gently score the pieces crosswise with a fork. As an alternative to scoring with a fork, Bugialli suggests you gently press them against the inside of a curved cheese grater, to obtain a curved shape with a depression on one side. The choice is up to you.
Cook the gnocchi in abundant salted boiling water, removing them with a slotted spoon a minute or two after they rise to the surface. Drain them well and serve them with a few leaves of sage, melted unsalted butter and Parmigiano, or meat sauce, or pomarola, or pesto.
The quantities above will make gnocchi sufficient for four as a main corse, or 6-8 as a first course in an Italian meal.
Or… Even better, they sell gnocchi already made in the italian section of the grocery store. 😉