Many years ago we attended a course called ‘Hands on Gnocchi’, given by Chef Staffan Terje, who at the time was at Scala’s Bistro in San Francisco and is now chef/owner of the wonderful Perbacco. We covered all kinds of gnocchi (which, as we learned, can be any one of a diverse range of small dumplings), including semolina gnocchi, spinach ricotta gnocchi, butternut squash gnocchi (which can be found elsewhere in the Monkeyshines archives) and potato gnocchi. We find ourselves often coming back to potato gnocchi, as they are a great vehicle for all kinds of sauces and flavorings – so the latest Daring Cooks challenge was a perfect excuse to break out the recipe again. We almost always pan fry our gnocchi rather than boiling them; the crispy shell seems to be the perfect foil for the soft, pillowy interior.
4 cups of baked potato (we use Russets)
1 whole egg + 1 egg white, beaten
1/2 cup flour
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp each grated nutmeg and white pepper
1/2 tbsp Kosher salt
Extra flour for dusting and olive oil for pan frying
Basil cut into thin strips (chiffonade) for serving
For the Primavera:
Assorted spring/summer vegetables, cut into bite-size cubes where appropriate. We used zucchini, pattypan squash, squash blossoms, grape tomatoes, leek and corn:
First, bake the potatoes until they are soft (about 40 minutes at 425ºF). Cut the potatoes in half lengthways, then leave in the over (with the heat off) for a further 10 minutes to dry them out. Rice the potatoes using your favorite ricing implement.
Place the riced potato and all the other dry gnocchi ingredients in a large bowl and gently mix together – we lift the dry ingredients in a motion similar to running your fingers through someone’s hair. Then fold in the egg until a soft dough has formed. It’s important not to mix too hard, or the gnocchi will be heavy and gummy:
Next, dust your work surface with flour and gently roll out the dough into a thick rope (again, taking care not to press too hard) – there may be spots that break or aren’t 100% incorporated – this is preferable by far to over-mixing. Cut the rope into delicious bite-sized pieces:
Cook the gnocchi in batches a hot skillet with a little oil, turning as each side gets brown. (Be careful – as the pan gets hot, the later batches will cook faster than the first!)
To make the vegetables, saute lightly in a little oil, seasoning to taste. Keep it simple – the beauty of this combination is the fresh vegetable flavors paired with the rich, cheesy gnocchi.
Serve the gnocchi with the vegetables scattered over them, and if you like finish off with a little basil chiffonade. Enjoy!