A part of nearly every culinary culture —from Czech to Korean to the American Deep South— dumplings are a traditional staple food the world over. A classic Italian staple, gnocchi (knee-oh-key), may have Middle-Eastern culinary roots which then spread to Europe with the expansion of the empire. In Roman times, a gnocchi made from semolina and eggs was employed to feed the Roman legions.
Today, the term gnocchi refers to several regional varieties of Italian dumpling. Malloreddus, a dumpling local to Sardinia, Apulian cavatielli, and the oven-baked gnocchi alla romana, are all semolina based. While traditional malfatti, common in Lombard and Tuscany, are made from ricotta, flour and spinach.
Still other more “modern” gnocchi varieties evolved after the 16th century introduction of the potato from the New World. Potato gnocchi also generally contain eggs along with either wheat flour, semolina, breadcrumbs, or cornmeal.
A starchy potato, such as an Idaho or Russet, is an ideal choice for a light textured gnocchi. However, an all purpose potato, like the Yukon Gold, will also yield a high quality dumpling.
Gnocchi dough can be left unflavored or enhanced with various herbs (especially sage), spices, vegetables or prunes. The dumplings are often shaped by hand with grooves or divots so that they can better hold savory sauces.
Our favorites include Magical Marinara, Alfredo with mushrooms, pesto, butter and parmesan, browned in butter and topped with sage leaves crisped in butter.
This potato gnocchi recipe gently combines boiled, riced potato, with flour, egg and a touch of nutmeg to create a very delicate, tender dumpling.
While, I prefer a very soft gnocchi, to create a firmer textured dumpling, simply add a little more flour to the dough and boil for a slightly longer duration.
Prep time:30 minutes (plus time to cool)
Cook time:25 minutes to boil and dry potatoes + 5 minutes to cook gnocchi
- 1 pound starchy potatoes (Russet, Idaho or Yukon Gold), peeled, washed, and cut into 1 inch cubes
- Freshly grated nutmeg to taste
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 - 1 1/3 cups unbleached flour, plus flour for rolling
- Quality salt
- Large pot for boiling potatoes (and later gnocchi)
- Ricer, food mill or potato masher
- Measuring cups
- Measuring spoons
- Large mixing bowl
- Sharp knife
- Slotted spoon
Step 1. Prepare the potatoes
Place the cubed potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold water.
Add a teaspoon of salt and bring to a boil.
Reduce the heat and simmer until just fork tender, about 20-25 minutes.
Drain and return to the pot.
Over low heat, stir the potatoes to prevent browning until completely dry.
Mash the potatoes with a ricer, food mill or potato masher.
Season to taste with salt, pepper and freshly grated nutmeg.
Set aside and let cool completely.
Step 1.5. Boil water
Meanwhile, begin boiling a large pot of generously salted water.
Step 2. Make the dumplings
Stir the beaten egg into the cooled potatoes.
Gently mix in 1 cup of flour. Add flour until the dough is no longer sticky. Don’t overwork or the gnocchi may be tough.
Adjust seasoning to taste.
On a floured surface, gently roll out the dough into 3/4 ~ 1 inch diameter ropes with your hands.
With a sharp knife, cut each rope into 1 inch pieces.
Shape each dumpling with thumb and finger to create an indented side and a ridged edge.
Roll over the tines of a fork to create grooves.
Step 3. Cook the gnocchi
Drop the gnocchi into boiling water.
When they rise to the surface, remove with a slotted spoon.
Drain in a shallow pan. Transfer to another container, cover and place in the oven to keep warm.
Sauce as desired.