Mmm sweet pillowy gnocchi. Light, fluffy little puff of potato. When they’re done right, they’re so good. When they’re done wrong…meh, not so much. And the key to making them right is less is more. Oh, and the right potato. Start with the right potato. This recipe includes sweet potatoes, but if you’re going straight potato, you’ll want to use russet potatoes. Russet’s have a floury texture with less water content than most other potatoes. When you’re mixing the dough, the key is not to overwork the dough. As you’re mixing the dough, those gluten molecules are forming and you want to keep them nice and loose. If those molecule bonds start to get strong, the gnocchi will get chewy. Less work = loosey goosey bonds. (Yay for science!)
This recipe came from Aida Mollenkamp’s site, which is full of delicious recipes. I picked up her cookbook, The Keys to the Kitchen, a few months ago, and it is a good one. If you’re looking for a little inspiration, I highly recommend picking it up! She cooks them in a delicious brown butter and sage sauce, but since I’m (usually) trying to cut back on the dairy items, we used a more traditional tomato sauce with some fresh parmesan on top.
- 1½ pounds sweet potatoes halved lengthwise
- ½ pound Russet potatoes halved lengthwise
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 2 Teaspoons salt
- Freshly ground black pepper as needed
- ¼ cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 3 Tablespoons honey
- 1½ to 2½ cups all purpose flour
- Heat an oven to 425°F. Drizzle the potatoes with olive oil and season with a few good pinches of salt and pepper (don't be too skimpy!) and place them on a rimmed baking sheet, cut-side down. Roast until fork tender, about 30 minutes. I loosely covered mine with aluminum foil to keep the oil from splattering all over the oven (if your smoke detectors are super sensitive like ours are, this may help.)
- Once the potatoes are cool enough to handle (or you have an oven mitt you can dirty), scoop the flesh out of skins and mash with a fork. Stir in cheese, egg, honey, and salt. Mix in the flour, about ½ cup at a time, until a soft dough forms. Taste and add additional salt, as needed. You'll get a bit of a workout on this one, but keep adding flour until the dough is damp but doesn't stick to your hands. And no matter what you do, don't overwork the dough! Less mixing is better.
- Turn dough out onto floured surface and shape into a squareish shape. Divide into 16 equal pieces with a bench knife or a knife. Using your hands and a floured work surface, roll each piece into a rope that's about ½ inch in diameter. If things are getting really sticky, feel free to add flour as needed, but too much flour will make the dough heavy and chewy, so try not to go crazy with the flour.
- Cut each piece into ½ inch long pieces. I pull out my bench knife for this and it works really well.
- Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a slow boil over medium-high heat. Working in batches, simmer gnocchi until tender, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer gnocchi to a clean rimmed baking sheet.
- If you don't want to make all of the gnocchi, you can freeze whatever you have leftover. Just place them on a floured baking sheet (or on wax paper on a baking sheet), and stick them in a freezer. Once they're frozen you can move them into a ziploc or tupperware. They'll last for a month or so and when you want to eat them, just throw them in a pot of boiling water for 3-5 minutes.
If you are looking for a good sauce, they’re great with a basic tomato sauce, like 101 Cookbook’s Five Minute Tomato Sauce or something a little fancier like the Balsamic-Sage Brown Butter from the original recipe.