There is nothing more special to me than perfectly light, fluffy, pillowy gnocchi! Sometimes that texture can be hard to achieve, though. I know I have eaten my fair share of dense and tough gnocchi in the past. Hopefully, I can impart some helpful tips for you to make your own gnocchi with a fantastic results.
What I love about gnocchi is that they can take on any flavor or color, and they are an excellent vehicle for any kind of sauce. They are many different versions of this little dumpling. Classic potato gnocchi is the type that most people are most familiar with. When making these gnocchi, it is always best to bake, not boil, the potatoes in order to get as much of the moisture out as possible.
Another thing I like about making gnocchi is that they freeze really well. If you’re not using all the gnocchi the same day, freeze them in a single layer on a sheet tray and then store in a resealable bag in the freezer for up to two months. You can boil them straight from the freezer; there is no need to thaw them. When you are cooking gnocchi, you want to make sure your water is heavily seasoned and boiling hard. Make sure to not overcrowd the pot, the water should always remain boiling. Usually, you will see the gnocchi drop to the bottom of the pot when you put them in the pot, and they will slowly start to rise to the top. Once they rise to the top, that is when I set my timer for 2-3 minutes.
While it is not necessary to have a ricer or a food mill to make gnocchi, they really do come in handy to achieve the light fluffy results we strive for. These tools help break down the potatoes more evenly and quickly and prevent the potatoes from getting gummy. Potatoes have a lot of starch and by mashing them instead of ricing them, it it is harder to incorporate all of the other ingredients without overmixing.
Overmixing is another cause of tough gnocchi. When I am making my dough, I like to start by mixing in the eggs into the potatoes first and seasoning that mixture well. This way, I know my egg is thoroughly mixed into the potato and should hold. I add the flour last and gently mix it in with a spatula. Once you start adding flour, you want to take care not to overmix and only add enough flour to just hold everything together. My biggest tip: boil a tester gnocchi to see if the dough is seasoned properly and the consistency is correct.
Classic Potato Gnocchi with Roasted Garlic Butter and Toasted Breadcrumbs
Scroll down for a printable version of this recipe
Yield: 4 servings
Active time: 45 minutes
Start to finish: 1 hour, 45 minutes
1 pound russet potatoes
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon parmesan cheese, grated
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon garlic grapeseed oil
For the butter:
8 cloves roasted garlic, mashed
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, rough chopped
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
Salt and black pepper to taste
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1. Preheat oven to 375°.
2. Pierce the potato in several places with fork. Bake on a parchment-lined sheet tray until tender, about 1 hour. Let stand until just cool enough to handle, about 15 minutes.
3. Peel the potato and press through a ricer or a food mill into a large bowl.
4. Add the flour, egg, parmesan, olive oil, salt and pepper and stir just until blended.
5. Turn the dough out onto lightly floured surface. Divide into 8 pieces and roll each piece into a rope about 1/2 inch thick. Cut the ropes into 1-inch pieces.
6. Place the gnocchi on a lightly floured sheet tray. Set aside.
7. Reduce the oven to 350°.
8. In a small bowl, toss together the breadcrumbs and garlic oil. Spread out on a parchment-lined sheet tray, and bake until the breadcrumbs are golden brown. Set aside.
9. To prepare the compound butter, mix together the roasted garlic, parsley, lemon zest, butter, salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper. Allow to sit out at room temperature. (This butter can be rolled in plastic and kept refrigerated for 1 week or in the freezer up to 3 months.)
10. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and add a generous pinch of salt.
11. Add the gnocchi to the boiling water, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Check for doneness by removing one piece and cutting it in half. The texture should be uniform and cooked through the center. Drain well and transfer to a serving bowl.
12. Toss the hot gnocchi with just enough of the roasted garlic butter to coat. Top with the toasted breadcrumbs, and serve.
Another type of gnocchi that I like to make does not contain potatoes. This is called a gnudi. Its base is nothing more than ricotta and egg and it is held together with flour and cheese, making these the lightest and most delicate of the dumplings. They are extremely fragile and work best in a lighter sauce.
One tip for making any kind of flavored or colorful gnudi or gnocchi would be to always blend that ingredient in with the eggs. This will ensure a beautiful even color throughout the gnocchi. I have done all sorts of colors besides green and flavors too; from olive to roasted red pepper. Because any added ingredient will add extra moisture to the dough you may have to add more flour and cheese to bind it together. The biggest takeaway from making any type of gnocchi dough is adding just enough flour for the dough to hold together and not too much more. Even if the dough is sticky, you can always add flour when rolling but the more flour you add into the actual dough the tougher, they will get.
Spinach Ricotta Gnudi
Yield: 4 servings
Active time: 45 minutes
Start to finish: 45 minutes
For the gnocchi:
1 whole egg
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
6 ounces whole milk ricotta
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, rough chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley, rough chopped
3/4 cup parmesan cheese, finely grated
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly ground
Salt and pepper to taste
- Bring a pot of water to a boil and add a generous pinch of salt.
- Combine the whole egg, yolk, and spinach into a blender and blend until smooth.
- In a large bowl add the spinach and egg mixture, ricotta cheese, thyme, parsley and parmesan cheese and mix well with a spatula.
- Then fold in the flour, nutmeg, salt and pepper into the ricotta mixture until just combined.
- Roll the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and shape into a log. Divide the log into quarters with a pastry cutter or knife. Cover with a dry towel.
- Clear excess flour from the work surface. Working with one quarter at a time, roll the dough into long, thin logs (1/2 inch thick).
- Use a pastry cutter or knife to cut logs into 1-inch pieces. Dust with flour and place on a sheet tray lined with parchment paper and dusted with flour. Refrigerate gnocchi until ready to cook (see note, below).
- Add the gnocchi to the boiling water, and cook at a rolling boil for two minutes. Check for doneness by removing one piece and cutting it in half. The texture should be uniform and cooked through the center. Drain well and transfer to a serving bowl.
- Toss the hot gnocchi with your favorite sauce and top with the grated parmesan cheese and serve.
If you want to learn how to make gnocchi like this wonderful student, we have two classes in May, one in person at Lincoln Square and one virtual that you can take from anywhere. Try your hand at rolling notoriously good gnocchi from the comfort of your own kitchen and keep all of these tips in mind when you do!
- Virtual Mother's Day Sunday Dinner: Gnocchi al Forno Sunday, May 9 4:30pm CST
- Hands-on Know your Gnocchi Sunday, May 23 11am Lincoln Square
Gnocchi is also this week's challenge for our private Facebook group members. Make some gnocchi this week and share your creations with other home cooks!