When I was little, I use to love to make gnocchi with my grandmother. She would pull out her trusty wooden board and start making those fluffy pockets of goodness. My job was to flick them over a fork to get the traditional marks that grab the sauce.
It never seemed like making gnocchi was that hard for her…it actually seemed effortless. She made hers with potatoes – and I found out years later that they would often use stale bread if they couldn’t get their hands on potatoes. And, making them with ricotta? Never! Not because they weren’t good, but because they were poor farmers who would have never been able to afford that.
When my grandmother died, I inherited her wooden board and I always use it now to make fresh pasta. The funny thing is, I know for certain that she is always right beside me as I knead and stir and cut. How do I know, you ask? Well, when I was little, I used to stand so close to her because I loved how she smelled – you know that wonderful smell that all grandmothers have? And, more often than not, whenever that trusty board comes out of the closet to sit on the counter and work it’s magic, the smell of my grandmother wafts through the kitchen.
Gnocchi are like little pillows of heaven if you ask me! They are essentially pasta dumplings that are soft and pillowy (the ricotta ones are a bit softer so if you prefer the harder gnocchi, try the potato recipe!).
If you make them with ricotta, use fresh ricotta – full fat only – from the cheese store is best!
This is the ricotta dough I made with my friend Joanna Sable…one that we left plain and the other that had braised radicchio and onions kneaded right into the dough. She brought her trusty basket from her mother-in-law that she uses to make the traditional ridges (I’ve never use a basket but it worked like a charm!!).
These fluffy beauties were then cooked and tossed in a bolognese sauce…so good!
This is the dough with the radicchio and onion that we prepped differently than the plain dough (instead of cutting a “rope” into small pieces like traditional gnocchi are prepared, we rolled the dough into a flat rectangle and then cut them into squares – so much easier!!)
Then we quickly boiled them in heavily salted water…
Meanwhile, we fried sage in brown butter, put aside the crispy leaves for garnish and then continued to make a sauce of cambozola and cream…incredible!!
So good…definitely making that again…
And the gnocchi with ragu? Spectacular! Look out in the next week or so for my Slow cooking ragu sauce!!
Thanks Nonna for all the lessons…I hope I made you proud!!
- Potato Gnocchi
- 2 large baking potatoes about 700 grams
- ¼ cup parmigiano
- ½ tsp grated nutmeg
- 2 medium eggs, beaten
- 1 cup Tipo00 flour, all-purpose is fine as well
- ½ tbsp salt and pepper
- Ricotta Gnocchi
- 1 container, 425 grams, of full fat fresh ricotta
- ½ cup parmigiano
- 1½ cups Tipo00 flour or all-purpose
- 1 egg, beaten
- ½ tbsp salt and pepper
- 1 cup finely chopped radicchio, optional
- ½ cup finely chopped white onion, optional
- ¼ cup olive oil, optional
- For the potato gnocchi, wrap the potatoes in foil and bake until they are fork tender (about 45-55 minutes)
- Cool for about 30 minutes and peel.
- On a floured surface, put the potatoes through a ricer (you can mash with a fork, but a ricer lets in air and makes it fluffy)
- Make a well in the potatoes and add your cheeses, eggs, nutmeg, salt and pepper.
- Add ¾ - 1 of a cup of flour and begin to mix. The dough should be a little tacky to touch, but it should form to make a soft smooth ball so keep adding flour until this happens; set aside to let rest.
- For the ricotta gnocchi, make a well in the ricotta and add your egg, cheese, salt and pepper. Now start adding 1 cup of flour and begin to mix. The dough should be a little tacky to touch, but it should form to make a soft smooth ball so keep adding flour until this happens. Now let rest. (note: if you are adding the braised radicchio and onion, just brown the chopped radicchio and onion until soft and knead into the dough)
- For both doughs, cover with cling wrap and a dishtowel to prevent it from drying out and let it rest for 15 minutes to a few hours.
- To finish forming the gnocchi (for both doughs), divide the dough into manageable pieces (I like to divide the dough into eighths)
- Take each piece on a floured surface and roll into logs that measure between a ½ and ¾ inch.
- Cut the logs into ½- to ¾-inch pieces using a sharp knife
- Some people use the base of a wicker basket and roll the gnocchi against this to create ridges, always using a thumb or middle finger (never the index because it is too small). There are also gadgets made specifically for rolling gnocchi but I find the gnocchi sticks to it and the ridges aren't deep enough. You can also use the tried and true method of the back of a fork.
- Place the gnocchi on a floured surface and covered until ready to use (gnocchi freezes well, so make a big batch, freeze them on the cookie sheet and then once frozen, place them into a freezer bag and store for up to one month).
- If you are cooking them now, boil a large pot of water and salt quite heavily (the water should taste like sea water!); when the water is at a rolling boil, salt and place the gnocchi in the water and wait for them to float to the top (that's when they are ready).
- Remove from water and add to sauce of your choice