Gnocchi is one of the most delicious and easiest pastas to make by hand. Due to its short ingredient list and round shape, anyone can make this northern Italian specialty. I like it best with a simple red sauce (maybe topped with fresh mozzarella), but gnocchi is also amazing in a topped with variety of other sauces like ragu and pesto.
I’ve made gnocchi by hand with Edoardo’s mom a couple of times and every time I'm surprised by how easy the method is (if time-consuming). The most important thing to keep in mind when making gnocchi is that because it has such few ingredients, the timing while boiling the potatoes, mashing, forming the dough and boiling the gnocchi is key. Everything has to be done straightaway, with no breaks in between. Giving exact instructions for a pasta like gnocchi is difficult, because the most important component is the texture, which has to be assessed in the moment. Like any good Italian cook will tell you, it just has to "feel right". But if you do take the time to make your own gnocchi by hand, it could be the best pasta you've ever tasted.
Keep reading for an Italian mom’s recipe for gnocchi and red sauce.
One kilo of big, mature potatoes (about 8 medium sized potatoes)
2-3 etti all-purpose flour (about 2-3 cups)
1-2 eggs (if necessary)
3 tsp salt
Parmesan cheese (for topping)
- Set a large pot of water on to boil, with cold water and the potatoes already added. Cook until the potatoes become soft (test with fork).
- Let potatoes cool completely, peel and put through ricer so they are completely mashed
- Add salt and half of the flour and combine until the consistency is like a thick paste. If the dough is too soft, add the rest of the flour.
- Knead the dough with your hands until all the mixture is absorbed. If the dough is still too mushy, you can add an egg and a bit more flour to help it combine better. Do not over-knead the dough!
- Separate your dough into 6 parts, then roll the balls out into long, snake-like ropes.
- Cut each rope into one inch pieces and roll individually in the palms of your hands until you make a ball. Press each piece with your finger to give an indentation in the center.
- Boil a large pot of salted water and in shifts, add the gnocchi to the boiling water for 5 minutes, or until they rise to the surface.
- Skim off the cooked gnocchi and add to a large platter.
- Add tomato sauce (cooked in a pot with carrots, celery, and basil for flavor) or any other sauce you want.
- Top with a generous amount of freshly grated parmesan cheese.
Giving exact instructions for a pasta like gnocchi is difficult, because the most important component is the texture, which has to be assessed in the moment. Like any good Italian cook will tell you, it just has to "feel right".