An easy Italian Pasta Dish recipe, Homemade Potato Gnocchi, made with only 4 ingredients. Tossed in a simple tomato sauce. These soft, delicate Gnocchi will make a delicious Dinner idea.
Living in Italy has made me realize that the simplest dish can be made in so many different ways, depending on the region or even how the family cooks it.
That of course also includes how to make Gnocchi. I have been told to use just flour and potatoes, or use some milk instead. But the best way I found is flour, salt, potatoes and an egg.
My father-in-law would often tell this rhyme to his grandkids “Ridi, Ridi che la Mamma ha fatta i gnocchi” (laugh, laugh, because mommy made gnocchi). The origin is supposedly during times of poverty when children would be happy because their mother was able to make something delicious with potatoes and flour.
What are gnocchi?
They are small pieces of dough, usually round or oblong in shape that are boiled in water or broth and then tossed with different sauces.
The term gnocco (which is the singular form of gnocchi) mean knot (or nodo), it refers to something hard such as the knuckles (nocche) of a finger. It was probably invented around the 16th century when potatoes were imported to Italy from America.
- Potatoes – best to use Yukon Gold or Russet
- Flour – all purpose
- Egg – room temperature
How to make them
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- In a large pot boil un peeled potatoes until tender, remove from the pot and let cool enough to handle, then remove the skin.
- Then pass through a Potato Ricer or mash.
- On a flat surface mix together the flour and salt make a well in the middle and add the potatoes and egg, mix together with your fingers to form a soft dough, it should not stick to your fingers.
- On a lightly floured surface, cut small amounts of dough to form ropes and cut into 3/4 inch (2 cm) pieces, then slide each piece on a fork and squeeze a little (but not too hard).
- Sprinkle with a little bit of flour and toss, so they don’t stick together.
- Let the gnocchi rest for 20 minutes before cooking.
- In a large pot of salted boiling water cook the gnocchi, gnocchi are ready when they float to the top.
- Drain and toss with desired sauce.
So how did I come by this recipe?
I have a great little family owned supermarket just down the street from me where I can get fresh eggs and really good cold cuts, slabs of pancetta, fresh nuts and other goodies and my just-purchased pressure cooker.
If you need it, they have it!
Over the years the woman who owns the store has also become a friend. She is originally from the South of Italy and left her family to marry and move North.
With the store business and family to take care of she doesn’t see them as often as she wishes.
My move from Canada to Italy was a little more extreme, but it was something we had in common and gave us something to break the ice.
So over the years I have acquired a good friend and some good recipes. This Gnocchi Recipe being one of them.
Different sauces for Gnocchi
How to make a firmer Gnocchi
- Use a red skinned potato
- Boil the potatoes with the peel on, that way the potato absorbs less water.
- Peel the potato and place through a potato ricer immediately, because the cooler they get the stickier they become.
- An easy way to peel the potato is stick a fork through and peel it using a knife.
- Although you should wait for the riced potato to cool before adding to the flour (or denaturation may occur).
What are Pelati tomatoes?
Pelati tomatoes are skinned plum (san marzano) tomatoes that are canned in their own juice with no additives such as salt, garlic basil etc. You can also use canned chopped tomatoes or even passata as long as there is nothing added to the tomatoes.
What is the best Potato for making them?
The perfect potato is an old potato, in other words no new potatoes. New potatoes contain more water which absorbs too much flour. Go for Yukon Gold or Russet Potatoes.
What is the best flour to use?
I think it all depends on preference, I always use all purpose, in Italy it’s called Manitoba but some people prefer 00 or a lower protein flour. A lower protein flour will make them softer and more tender.
How long does it take to cook gnocchi?
Once they have been added to the salted boiling water give them a couple of stirs and watch carefully, it doesn’t take long for them to cook 1-2 minutes (sometimes less), once the float to the surface they are done. Remove them immediately. Over cooked and they will turn to mush.
Different ways to serve them
Gnocchi can be served on their own in your favourite sauce or you can also bake them in the oven as a typical Italian baked pasta dish. Two of our favourites are a Baked Creamy Cheese White Sauce Gnocchi and a Baked Gnocchi Double Cheese Tomato Sauce. Either or both are definitely worth trying.
How to Store them
Potato gnocchi can be left uncooked for no more than a couple of hours (covered). Cooking may be a little longer because they will have dried out a bit in the air.
Any leftover cooked gnocchi should be stored in an airtight container and refrigerated. They will last up to three days in the fridge.
The Gnocchi can also be frozen, place the uncooked gnocchi on a cookie tray in the freezer, leave for approximately 20 minutes then place them in an airtight freezer bag. They will keep for about 1 month.
When you cook them there is no need to defrost, just add them to boiling salted water.
Delicious Gnocchi Recipes
So anytime you are craving a tasty home-made pasta dish, and you need it now and fast, Gnocchi are perfect. In an hour you could have a delicious pasta dish on the table and you can say “I did it myself”. Buon Appetito!
Homemade Potato Gnocchi
FOR THE GNOCCHI
- 1 pound potatoes (clean but not skinned / not new potatoes)
- 1 cup flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 medium egg (room temperature)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (40 grams)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1-2 cloves large of garlic chopped
- 1 teaspoons oregano
- 5 leaves basil chopped (or 1 teaspoon /3/4 gram dried)
- 2 dashes of hot pepper flakes (if desired)
- 1 can pelati tomatoes with sauce (1 1/2 to 2 cups / 400 grams), nothing else added in the tomatoes
- 1/2 cup water
- In a large pot boil potatoes until tender, remove from the pot and let cool remove the skin. Then pass through a potato ricer.
- Mix together the flour and salt, place on a flat surface, make a well in the middle and add the potatoes and egg, mix together with your fingers to form a soft dough, it should not stick to your fingers. On a lightly floured surface, cut small amounts of dough to form ropes and cut into 3/4 inch (2 cm) pieces, then slide each piece on a fork and squeeze a little (but not too hard). Sprinkle with a little bit of flour and toss, so they don't stick together. Let the gnocchi rest for 20 minutes before cooking.
- While the gnocchi are resting make the sauce. In a large saucepan add olive oil, tomatoes, salt, garlic, oregano, basil, hot pepper flakes and water, stir to combine, half cover and let simmer over medium heat until thickened. Remove cover for the last few minutes to thicken.
- In a large pot of salted boiling water cook the gnocchi, gnocchi are ready when they float to the top. Drain and add to the cooked sauce, add a little pasta water, cook for 30 seconds, gently tossing. Serve immediately topped with fresh grated parmesan cheese if desired. Enjoy!
Updated from December 16, 2014.