The few times I have made pasta by hand, it usually turns out to be more trouble than it’s worth — but gnocchi is something I can do. I’ve made butternut squash gnocchi before, but this time wanted to try my hand at a more classic, basic recipe.
I started from this recipe but then decided that maybe I didn’t want to do something quite that basic. So I added some pureed spinach as well, to make things a little more colorful. The whole meal took about 2 and a half hours to make, with some help from Mr. R of course, but it’s a fun, cooperative meal to make on a weekend with friends family. You can also freeze the extra (and there will be a lot of extra) and enjoy gnocchi all week! Served with a side of caprese salad — so good!
2 lb. russet potatoes (about 4 medium), scrubbed
6-3/4 oz. (1-1/2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour, + 2-3 tablespoons
1 5 oz package baby spinach leaves
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Clean the potatoes thoroughly and bring them to a boil in a large pot of water until they can be easily pierced with a fork, about 30-40 minutes.
Remove any tough stems from the spinach and lightly blanch or steam them until they are wilted, about 2-3 minutes. Puree in a food processor until very smooth.
When the potatoes are done and have cooled, peel them and process through a ricer or food mill. Their texture needs to be very smooth for gnocchi. Let cool another 15-20 minutes, so that they will not cook the egg when added.
Sift the 6.75 oz flour with the salt. Combine the spinach, egg and potato and gradually mix in the flour. When all the ingredients have formed together, bring to a floured surface and knead with your hands, until it starts to feel like dough — smooth and a little elastic. Do not overwork or the gnocchi will be tough, however — it should still feel “delicate.”
Note that the spinach does add additional moisture and so additional flour should be added, tablespoon-by-tablespoon, until you achieve the right consistency. The dough should be a little sticky, but not excessively so.
On your floured surface, break off a piece of the gnocchi and gently roll into a long rope with about a 3/4 inch diameter. Cut the rope into 1 inch pieces and transfer them to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
You can use a fork to add the characteristic ridges to the gnocchi, but it’s not necessary. It just adds more time until you can enjoy the gnocchi!
This recipe makes a LOT of gnocchi. Luckily, they freeze well. Just pop one of the baking sheets into the freezer and transfer them to a ziplock bag after a few hours.
Boil 10-20 gnocchis at a time, being careful not to crowd them too much, and stirring occasionally. When they float to the surface, after about 1-2 minutes, cook them for another minute then remove with a slotted spoon.
Top with your favorite sauce — I just used my basic puttanesca sauce but the brown butter and sage sauce linked above is also lovely.
On the side, Mr. R made a simple caprese salad, tossing some cherry tomatoes, basil and mozzarella together with a simple balsamic vinaigrette:
Don’t buy salad dressing. They taste like crap and it is SO EASY to make your own.
All you need is olive oil and vinegar, with a 3:1 oil to vinegar ratio, about a half teaspoon of dijon mustard and if you prefer, a dash of seasoning (I like Penzey’s Country French Vinaigrette). Whisk the vinegar, mustard and seasoning and then SLOWLY drizzle in the oil, drop by drop practically, all while whisking vigorously. Or combine in a food processor (most of them have those little holes at the top for you to pour in the oil so that it is slowly combined).
This meal was so delicious and satisfying. Definitely give it a try!