The Stuff I'm Not Cooking - Perfect Gnocchi

I really have to hand it to you guys, you picked a winner. You really did. And I have to thank you too, because I have you to thank for forcing me to cook this dish. I'm so glad I did.

Not only did I cook something I ordinarily would not have, but I conquered my fear of making gnocchi.

Did you know I had a fear of making gnocchi? I did. I fear making them because they are so simple, but they can go horribly awry. And I'm trying to be an authentic and accomplished Italian home cook. I should be able to make an impressive plate of gnocchi. Don't you think? Well, now I can.

If you recall, last week, I posted about the stuff that I'm not cooking, but given time (and demands from readers) I would. From comments and tweets, you chose the Perfect Gnocchi recipe that I tore out of a Food and Wine magazine heavens only knows how long ago.

This past Saturday I set to work, and enlisted the help of Marmo as sous chef. We have a few modifications and helpful hints to this recipe which I will include in the recipe below.

Please note, this one is a winner. I swear by all the potatoes in Idaho (4 of which I used for this recipe). Here goes:

Perfect Gnocchi with Carrot Purée (adapted from Food and Wine)

What You Need:

For the gnocchi:

2 pounds baking potatoes (about 4)

2 large egg yolks


1 cup flour (potentially more, so have it on hand)

4 carrots, thinly sliced

1 Tablespoon olive oil

For the sauce:

4 Tablespoons of butter

About 10 small heirloom tomatoes sliced in half. (I used a mix from Trader Joes, but you could use cherry or grape tomatoes if you can't find those)

Sage - about 4-5 leaves chopped

A pinch of sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Grated Parmesan or Peccorino cheese

What To Do:

Preheat the oven to 400°. Pierce the potatoes all over with a fork. Bake them in a microwave oven at high power for 10 minutes, then flip the potatoes and microwave for 5 minutes longer.

Transfer the potatoes to the oven and bake for 15 minutes.

Alternatively, bake the potatoes in the oven for about 1 hour, until tender.

While the potatoes are cooling, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Place your sliced carrots in the skillet and cook for about 2 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of water and a pinch of salt. Cover the carrots and cook for about 15 minutes. They should be very tender.

Transfer the carrots to a food processor or a blender and purée. I found that a blender (or a food processor with a small bowl) works better because there really aren't a lot of carrots to purée. This should yeild about 1/2 cup of carrot purée.

Halve the potatoes and scoop the flesh into a ricer. Rice the potatoes onto a clean surface. I used my kitchen table. 

At this point, you can dump the carrot purée onto the riced potatoes. You should have a nice carrot/tater pile.

Throw on top of this the 2 egg yolks and 1 teaspoon of salt.

Add the flour 1/2 cup at a time, kneading as you go. The dough will be very sticky, but will start to come together as you add more flour.

Once you have added the cup of flour, form your dough into a ball, and cut off a small chunk. We will be using this chunk for testing.

Rolling the tester chunk into a 3/4-inch-thick rope. Cut the ropes into 3/4-inch pieces. Roll each piece against the tines of a fork to make ridges. Place the gnocchi on a floured surface to await their turn in a pot.

NOTE: The reason I advocate making a tester rope is that you don't know how the consistency will turn out. Boiling up three tester pieces to check it is a good use of your time. If your gnocchi are the consistency of a mealy apple, add more flour. They should be light, fluffy, and smooth in texture. They shouldn't fall apart or be grainy.

Place your tester gnocchi in a large pot of simmering salted water, cook the gnocchi until they rise to the surface, then simmer for 2 minutes longer. If you like the tast of these, then feel free to cook the rest of them.

NOTE: If you haven't yet made your sauce, but you've cooked all your gnocchi, DON'T PANIC. Just place your cooked gnocchi in a big bowl and drizzle with a little bit of olive oil. They'll wait happily until you're ready to outfit them in buttery sauce.

In a large nonstick skillet, melt the butter. Add in your halved tomatoes and chopped sage. Sautée until your tomatoes start to cook - about 2 minutes.

Add the pinch of salt, and give every thing a good mix.

Add the gnocchi to the butter/tomato sauce in the skillet. Mix and cook over high heat for 1 minute.

Sprinkle with the cheese and ground pepper and serve.

NOTE: The uncooked gnocchi pieces can be frozen on the prepared baking sheet, then transferred to a resealable plastic bag and frozen for up to 1 month. Boil without defrosting.

BONUS: Here is a video of Marmo rolling gnocchi on a fork. She is good at it!