Sunday, October 22, 2006

Potato-Ricotta Salata Gnocchi

Gnocchi are a comforting cold-weather dish. They comfort in 3 ways: 1. The lazy afternoon gnocchi rolling process s comforting. 2. The putting-up-for-the-winter idea is as well. If you make a double batch, and freeze these gnocchi, you will have made for quick and satisfying lunches later on. I tend to fill up my freezer in the fall with ravioli, gnocchi and pierogi, among other things. The abundance makes me feel good somehow, safe. 3. To eat, gnocchi with their soft pillowy-ness, are the definition of comfort food, soft and tasty and warm. The strategy for light gnocchi is to mix in the minimum amount of flour while still having a solid, non-sticky consistency, so the drier the potatoes, the better. The dry, crumbly ricotta salata (a dried, salted ricotta which is usually used grated) goes a long way to producing a dry consistency in this dish. Also baking the potatoes as opposed to boiling them helps a lot. Here’s the recipe:

1 lb potatoes
1 cup flour
3 ozs ricotta salata, finely grated (the chunk looked about ¼ cup and once grated, it was a fluffy 1 ½ cups)
¼ tsp grated nutmeg
1 whole egg
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper

Serves 4

Bake the potatoes in a 400F oven until well cooked, on the soft side, about 45 minutes. Let cool slightly (warmth is important) score the flesh with a dinner knife and scoop out of the skin with a spoon into a large mixing bowl. Mash with a potato masher or ricer. Add the flour, cheese, nutmeg, salt and pepper and incorporate after each addition. Make a well in the mixture Beat the egg in a cup and add to the mixture. Gradually mix the egg with a fork into the potato-flour mixture incorporating a little of the potato-flour into the egg at a time. Once you have a uniform consistency, you can separate the dough into quarters and cover with plastic. Take out one quarter at a time and roll into a log between your hands. There should be no problems with sticking. If there are, add as little extra flour as you can just to make the dough workable. Comfort music for making comfort food: Norah Jones’ “Come Away With Me”. Start rolling the dough on a tabletop back and forth with both hands until you have made a long, ½-inch diameter rope. Cut the rope into ½-inch pieces. Draw a fork across the top of each gnocco (singular of gnocchi?) from cut end to cut end so that the tines create a radiator effect. The result will be little oval pillows with ridges on one side. Let dry for a couple of hours or freeze for later use. Once you’re ready to eat, boil a large pot of salted water, drop in the gnocchi while stirring and bring back to the boil asap. Once the gnocchi begin to float at the water’s surface, cook for 1 ½ minutes longer and drain. Serve with basically any pasta sauce you like. Most of the time, gnocchi are served with gorgonzola cheese or a tomato-based sauce. You see the gnocchi here with a tomato-oregano marinara.


Blogger Kalyn said...

I've heard that gnocchi are very challenging to make, but yours look great.

4:43 PM  
Anonymous Ellie said...

Ooh, I keep telling myself that I need to give gnocchi-making a try, but have been hesitant as I didn't think they'd be eaten up in one sitting! To keep them, do you freeze them before or after boiling them? And what's the best way to cook frozen gnocchi?

5:07 PM  
Blogger Susan in Italy said...

Hi Kalyn, Thanks!

Hi Ellie, You can freeze them after rolling them with the fork and letting them dry out a bit. Once you have frozen them, you can cook them straight out of the freezer. Just make sure to have heavily boiling, abundant water.

6:31 PM  
Anonymous Ivonne said...

Incredible! How I wish I could have a plate of those right now.

Great idea to freeze them!

2:19 AM  
Blogger hellomelissa said...

you are so right... i love gnocchi and pierogi as comfort food as well. both t and i have polish heritage and families that made pierogi... another all-day event!

4:03 PM  
Blogger Susan in Italy said...

Hi Ivonne, Gnocchi are the best antidote to the chilly all-day downpour we've had today!

Hi Melissa, Pierogi Do take all day, don't they? I sometimes get in a bad mood if I spend too long making them. Have you ever made the blueberry ones? Mrs. Maciasz, a neighbor, served them to me once and I thought, "ugh! I'll have to grin and bear thes" but when I tasted them, I fell in love.

8:52 PM  
Anonymous rowena said...

Susan you are a cook after my own heart! Last week I made gnocchi with potato and grano saraceno after enjoying a meal of pizzoccheri out with friends. I loved the texture! Now I'm curious for the blueberry pierogi!

9:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mmmmmmmmm, Susan, the gnocchi you made looks so tempting and I'm so hungry now! Why do I always read your blog at breakfast time? Makes me want to shun the bran and eat gnocchi instead! :)

1:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mmmmmmmmm, Susan, the gnocchi you made looks so tempting and I'm so hungry now! Why do I always read your blog at breakfast time? Makes me want to shun the bran and eat gnocchi instead! :)

1:43 PM  
Blogger nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

great. I just had an unsatisfying lunch and just had to see the gnocchi. now I'm really hungry.

11:13 PM  
Blogger Susan in Italy said...

Hi Rowena, Buckwheat gnocchi sound really good. Did you serve them with cabbage, potatoes and cheese?

Hi Lotus, Hm. Gnocchi for breakfast? I dunno. I heard about winter Quebequois (sp?) breakfasts of toast slathered with a "pate" of pork and pork fat. Sounds awful but would probably keep you warm. Ever tried that?

Hi Ragazza, So sorry!

9:13 AM  
Blogger J said...

I think I could easily eat those yummy gnocci for breakfast! They look amazing!

10:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This looks like a wonderful way to make these - one of my goals for summer was to make gnocchi! Your blog is great - I plan to check it more and more!

6:43 PM  

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