Lovely little potato pillows
I’ve been a big fan of gnocchi ever since I first tried it, but it wasn’t until a few years ago that I started making my own. If you have never made fresh gnocchi, I strongly recommend that you give it a go – shop-bought gnocchi just doesn’t even compare to the light, fluffy pillows that you can achieve at home.
This is my go to gnocchi recipe – it’s a really reliable recipe with some useful tips. The key to a good gnocchi dough is not to use too much flour or egg – otherwise the dough becomes too heavy and stodgy: good gnocchi should be delicate and fluffy. If you want a slightly richer flavour you can add a little buckwheat flour to the dough in place of some of the plain flour. I usually try to bake my potatoes rather than boiling them as this avoids them becoming too moist and heavy. Use a potato ricer to break up the potatoes; if you don’t have one, just push them through a sieve to make sure that there are no lumps. If you find that you really enjoy making gnocchi, you might want to invest in a gnocchi board like the one below, you can pick them up quite cheaply on the internet. This creates the characteristic ridges of gnocchi, which help to hold the sauce (if you don’t have one, don’t worry – a fork will do the job just as well!)
Once you’ve shaped and boiled your gnocchi you need to decide what sauce to enjoy them with – I usually use a simple herb butter type sauce (rosemary or sage will work very well with gnocchi) and serve them immediately. If you want something really warming and comforting, you can bake your gnocchi in the oven with a sauce and a little cheese – homemade tomato sauce with oodles of fresh basil and a few chunks of mozzarella thrown in is also a winning combination. Last night, however, I was feeling a little more indulgent so I baked my gnocchi in the oven with a blue cheese sauce, some tenderstem broccoli and a sprinkling of cheese on top. Here it is, ready for the oven…
Baking the gnocchi seems to make them even lighter, and a crispy layer of baked cheese contrasts beautifully with the softness of the gnocchi. There are so many ways to enjoy gnocchi, you can vary the sauce and the toppings or you can add herbs, beetroot, spinach or sweet potato to the dough. It’s even possible to pan-fry them instead of boiling them to get a crisp outer shell. I’d love to know more about your experiences with gnocchi – have you found a winning combination?