Gnocchi are delicious, filling and easy to make even if it does take a little bit of time. This recipe is very simple though, and takes a lot of the faff and speciality equipment out of the list of ‘must haves’. I personally prep my potatoes in the microwave, mash them with a, well a masher, and do everything else by hand.
You can make a good number of gnocchi with this recipe, enough to feed at least 4 people or more if you serve it with a hearty sauce or bolognese.
I have a couple of recipes up for using them as well as some quick suggestions at the bottom of this page. They are incredibly versatile, you might like to try my 3 ingredient butter and pancetta fried gnocchi, – I also think that BBC good food is great for inspiration –> try this link for gnocchi dreams.
Today I served it up simple using the recipe link above. I easily fried my easy homemade gnocchi with a knob of butter and a scattering of pancetta until slightly crispy on the outside and super tasty. A scattering of dried herbs on top with a crack of the chilli grinder finished off the deliciousness!
I only used about 2/5ths of the gnocchi I made today though – the rest have gone in the fridge and will be made into something else tomorrow.
What are gnocchi?
Gnocchi are small dumplings, used like pasta, and can be made out of any number of things. They originate from Italy, but there are similar foods across Europe (and probably beyond) – for example to Nokerl of Eastern europe, or the herby suet dumplings of England!
When it comes to Italian gnocchi though, my favourite most of the time are the more traditional potato gnocchi – but there is always an occasion where a sweet potato, pumpkin or beetroot gnocchi is just what you need.
They can also be flavoured – a pinch of chilli, a dollop of herbs. Or add in some fruit or cheese for a completely different angle on the gnocchi. But I really do like simple, and simple tastes done well are so much more rewarding for me personally than a hyper-complex meal that tastes great because there is 500g of cheddar on it!
Of course you can buy them…
You can get them in any shop – at the moment Waitrose stock some really great fresh gnocchi by Dell ‘Ugo, which comes in Spinach, Pumpkin and Potato varieties (check it out here). These are the best shop bought ones I’ve managed to find, so give them a go if you fancy it!
As a quick meal, I will normally grab gnocchi over the fresh pastas in Sainsburys/Lidl/Tesco. They cook marginally quicker, and you can do a lot more with them and a simple sauce (e.g. the sauces I discuss below) – they are, however, incomparable to homemade gnocchi and if you’ve never tried I really would recommend you give it a go!
- 800g floury potatoes 3-4 medium-large potatoes
- 1-2 cups flour (around 125-250g)
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tsp salt and pepper
For beetroot gnocchi simply replace around 1/4 of the potato with beetroot and use the same instructions
For pumpkin, you can add even more – around 1/2 of your potato mash can be replaced
For spinach gnocchi, it's slightly more complex. You can remove a quarter of your mash. Use about half a cup of wilted spinach that has been well dried out (e.g. by squeezing in a tea towel) and then blended until smooth. You may need to add extra flour.
- First the potatoes need cooking – this can be done in the microwave (around 12 minutes on full power having pricked the potatoes in several places) or in the oven (180 degress, gas mark 5, for 1 hour, again you need to prick the potatoes all over).Baking is better than boiling because it creates a good floury texture, and doesn't add a lot of unwanted water to your recipe that would then require a lot of extra flour!
- Peel your potatoes after you've allowed them to cool a little, then either mash them finely or put them through a ricer for a really fine mash. Add them to around 1 cup of flour and mix well with your salt and pepper.Next add the egg yolk, and re-combine everything
- You should be aiming for an easily workable dough, but not at all sticky. Add flour until you're happy that you've got this consistency – depending on your potatoes you may need up to 2 cups.
- Divide into handfuls, and roll out using your hands on a well floured surface into a sausage about 2 cm diameter. Squash it slightly to make the sausage an oval in cross section.Slice at 1 cm intervals along the sausage to separate off your gnocchi. Then push down on them in the middle to create a little dimple – this looks nice and ensures the gnocchi cook evenly.
- Boil a big pot of water, with some salt added in. Drop the gnocchi in carefully and scoop up when they start to bobble on the surface. This will only take a couple of minutes, and 2 chefs can be a help at this point if you want to cook them all at once. Otherwise cook them in small batches.
- When cooked pop them in a little bowl with a touch of olive oil to stop them sticking. You can freeze the gnocchi in this state too, though you'll have to separate them out a little, and then simple reboil for a couple of minutes at a later date.You can simply serve them now, drizzled with olive oil and a sprinkling of salt as a side to a hearty stew or some roast fish, for example. Or you can stir a sauce through them, fry them or bake them as a main!
For golden fried butter-gnocchi
- Now just add your boiled gnocchi to a frying pan with a good gnob of delicious salted butter. Fry until golden, keep them moving in the pan to prevent sticking!This goes great with some panchetta too for a really simple, but incredibly satisfying dish.Serve with some grated parmesan, and a sprinkling of chilli.
For fresh pesto gnocchi salad
- Take your cooked gnocchi, add some chopped cherry tomatoes and rocket leaves, mix with 1-2 tbsp of pesto. Top with grated parmesan.
For rich mediterranea seafood gnocchi
- In a separate pan fry off a chop onion with some crushed garlic and 3-4 anchovie fillets, add a tin of chopped tomatoes and 2 tbsp tomato paste with 10-15 olives and a tbsp capers. Allow to simmer and reduce. Add some cooked prawns, heat for 2 minutes before stirring your gnocchi through.