Friday, September 7, 2012

Light-as-air gnocchi

I like gnocchi, but EJ has had some less-than-awesome experiences. I had heard that they’re pretty easy to make, and I tried it once, with bad results. The taste was all right, but the gnocchi were heavy and doughy when they should have been light and airy. After that day I stayed away from gnocchi for a bit, until one day I ordered them in a restaurant in Chapel Hill and was reminded of how wonderfully delicious a properly made gnocchi can be. Gnocchi should be light and airy, should melt in your mouth, and should be accompanied by fresh vegetables and preferably high quality cheese (or cheese substitute). And so I did my research and have since come up with a recipe that made EJ decide he actually liked gnocchi!

From Food pics

About 2 Russet (or starchy) potatoes
1 egg, beaten
¾ cup flour, plus extra for dusting
½ t salt
A few shakes of fresh cracked pepper
Any delicious sauce you want to use! Shown here is fresh spinach, olive oil, salt, pepper, and lots of freshly grates parmesan cheese. As a side dish, I glazed tofu with balsamic vinegar, baked it, and topped it with tomato sauce and more parmesan cheese. 

1.  First you need to cook your potatoes. Its better to bake them, instead of boiling, this way you can get out any extra moisture. So preheat your oven to 425 and cook those babies for about an hour (poke them all over with a fork though).
2. After the potatoes have cooled, they need to be smashed. Don’t just mash them, though, its best to use a potato ricer. This aerates them and keeps the dough fluffy. If you don’t have a potato ricer, like me, just scoop out the insides and put them through a cheese grater!

3. Measure out about 2 cups of loosely packed, riced potatoes and put them in a bowl. Add the beaten egg (don’t beat it in the potatoes!) and the salt and pepper. Stir with a wooden spoon until just mixed. Add about ¾ of the flour, and again, mix until only just blended. Add in flour as needed – the more flour you add, the heavier the gnocchi will be. You’re going for a smooth, not sticky dough.

4. Dust your counter top with flour and turn the dough onto it, knead for about a minute. Add flour if it starts getting sticky.

5. Set up a large baking sheet covered with wax paper, and dust flour over that. Break off pieces of the dough and roll into a rope that is about ½-inch thick. Use a knife to cut the rope into 1-inch sections. Take each gnocchi, press it with a fork, and place on the baking sheet.

 6. Now you can either cook them or freeze them.
To cook them, bring a large pot of heavily salted water to boil. Add the gnocchi and give a quick stir to make sure they’re not sticking to the bottom. Let cook about 3-4 minutes, until they float to the surface.
To freeze (and there may be a better way of doing this, but this worked for me), stick the whole baking sheet into the freezer. Once they’re frozen, you can transfer them to a freezer bag. When you’re ready to cook, read the above step. 

7.Add sauce, and serve!

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