…from the Perspectives’ Kitchen
How you doin’? Let’s try something a little different today—Let’s make some Gnocchi with baked potatoes!
Classic gnocchi are light, tender and airy. Gnocchi is not classified as a pasta, but more of an Italian dumpling. These dumplings are not over-powered by the taste of potato which isn't a hugely overwhelming flavor in and of itself, but the shape and texture makes them an excellent carrier for other flavors in sauces, making them incredibly versatile.
The potato gnocchi originated in Northern Italy, where the cooler climate was better suited for growing potatoes rather than grain. There are potatoes that are starchier, that make light, airy dough and are responsible for the soft, pillowy texture and the light potato flavor of the gnocchi.
Bartolomeo Scappi included gnocchi in his 1570 cookbook; they were made from a dough of flour and stale breadcrumbs mixed with water and pushed through the holes of a cheese grater. In later years, egg, flour and water were introduced to the recipe, which became known as malfatti. But it didn’t become the potato dumplings we know today until the 16th century when potatoes were introduced to Europe.
The most common way to prepare gnocchi today is to combine mashed potatoes (boiled or baked) with flour, forming balls of dough. The gnocchi dough is rolled out, then cut into small bite-sized pieces, each individually pressed with a fork or a cheese grater to produce the ridges on one side. The purpose of these grooves is to enable each dumpling to hold the sauce for a more flavorful finished dish.
The most popular gnocchi sauce is a light butter sauce with fresh sage. There are other methods and other sauces that make delicious gnocchi, such as extra virgin olive oil with small savory ingredients like toasted pine nuts, mushrooms or a touch of cream. There’s also gnocchi with sausage ragú, a traditional Sardinian dish. There’s baked gnocchi of cheeses and veggies with sausage, prosciutto or pancetta. And there are tomato-based sauces, light cream sauce and even pesto (pine nut, cheese and basil) sauce… all are delicious.
Gnocchi is generally a first course dish, or an alternative to soups or other pasta. There are many variations–ricotta, spinach, pumpkin, and more. Gnocchi are still home-made in many Italian households. There’s also ready-to-eat package gnocchi bought fresh or frozen in grocery stores and supermarkets. My recipe is so simple it’s just as easy and more delicious to make at home yourself.
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Yield: 4 servings
2 large russet potatoes
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 large egg
2 tablespoon Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons kosher salt
Sauce of your choosing
ChefSecret: Gnocchi developed into different variations since the times of the Romans. They can be made with different ingredients such as squash, sweet potatoes, pumpkins and breadcrumbs or made of ordinary wheat flour or cornmeal.
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