When I lived in Italy, we ate a lot of gnocchi - a light, yet substantial dish that can be served as a side dish, a first dish or a main dish. I have to admit, I didn't get it at first. Is it potato? Or is it pasta? But whatever it was I liked it and because of my confusion assumed it was difficult to make. So after reading a few recipes and purchasing a potato ricer (only $18), I decided to test my reading and following all instructions skills. About 5 minutes in I realized this was not going to be difficult and started doing my own thing. (if you want to follow a recipe try Joy of Cooking.)
What you need: 2 lbs of potatoes (about 6 medium potatoes), flour (1 and 1/3 cups), salt (1tsp), nutmeg or cinnamon (1/4tsp), black pepper (1tsp).
Heat oven to 400. Prick each potato and bake directly on an oven rack until easily pierced with a fork (about 1 hour). While still hot, cut the potatoes in half and scoop out the pulp and discard the skins. Push it through a potato ricer.
Combine the potatoes in a bowl with the flour, salt and ground cinnamon or nutmeg. Mix with your hands and then drop onto a work surface and knead until smooth and blended.
Bring a pot of water to boil. I then split the dough into 4 chunks, rolled each chunk flat with a rolling pin and cut into 3/4 inch pieces. I then cut those pieces into smaller pieces and rolled into small balls.
Once the water is simmering, drop a few gnocchi into the water and cook until they float, about 3 minutes. They should be intact, firm and chewy. (If they are too soft, knead into the remaining dough, a tablespoon or two of flour and some beaten egg.) Drop the remaing gnocchi into the pot of simmering water and cook until they float to the top and remove with a slotted spoon. Drizzle some melted butter or olive oil the gnocchi and toss to coat.
Serve hot with some kind of sauce - with butter and parmesean, a tomato sauce, a ragu, a pesto sauce or a gorgonzola sauce. This time I served it with a homemade tomato sauce. Next time, I'll try the gorgonzola sauce as I'm obsessed with the gnocchi gorgonzola sold at Trader Joes!
This recipe makes A LOT of gnocchi but you can freeze it for later. If you want to freeze some of it, before cooking place gnocchi on a baking sheet and place in freezer until frozen, then put in a container or freezer bag. (only keep in the freezer for up to a month). When ready to cook, there is no need to defrost, just drop in a pot of simmering water.