Gnocchi, along with pasta, is one of those dishes that is truly best when freshly made. Yes I eat pasta from the box and I’ve had gnocchi from refrigerated packets. But nothing, and I mean nothing, beats the starchy, succulent taste and texture of freshly made gnocchi.
It is more time consuming, of course and a little more labor intensive. All well worth the effort. Luckily, if planned right, you can have fresh gnocchi on a week night simply by preparing gnocchi the day before, and then finishing the dish on the following night.
For this meatless monday dish, A decided to make a Mario Batali dish we’ve had bookmarked for some time now. I’m including Batali’s basic gnocchi recipe, though you could use prepared gnocchi if you choose. Batali is particular about the preparation and cooking of gnocchi and pasta so the instructions are detailed. There are good reasons for each step I’m sure and we usually strictly keep to the instructions.
Simple as the overall dish may seem with few ingredients (and yes, it is simple to make), the flavors are nothing but. I loved the combination of the olives and smoked mozzarella that added a welcome complexity and texture to the meal.
from Molto Italiano
- 3 lbs russet potatoes
- 2 c. all-purpose flour
- 1 large egg
- 1 tspn kosher salt
- 1/2 c. canola oil
Cook the potatoes in a large pot of water, bringing to a boil and then reducing the heat until the potatoes are tender. Drain and let cool slightly. While the potatoes are still warm, peel and mash, preferably through a vegetable mill onto a clean work surface.
Bring another pot of water to a boil, adding a healthy pinch of salt to the boiling water. Set up an ice bath nearby.
Make a well in the center of the potatoes and sprinkle them all over with the flour. break the egg into the center of the well, add the salt and, using a fork, slowly incorporate the egg into the flour and potatoes. As the dough comes together, knead it gently until it forms a ball. Knead for another 4 minutes or until the dough is dry to the touch.
Divide the dough into 6 balls. Roll one ball into a rope 3/4 inch in diameter, and cut it into 1 inch pieces. Roll each piece down the back of the fork to create the gnocchi ridges. Drop each gnocchi into the boiling water and cook until they float to the surface, about 1-2 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the gnocchi to the ice bath. Repeat with the remaining dough.
Drain the cooked and cooled gnocchi. In a bowl, toss the gnocchi with olive oil. It can be stored covered for about two days at this point. (Serves 4 main course meals).
Gnocchi with Tomatoes and Olives (Gnocchi al Pizzaiolo)
from Molto Italiano
- 1 lb plum tomatoes
- 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup green olives, pitted
- cooked gnocchi
- 4 oz. smoked fresh mozzarella cut into 1⁄4 inch cubes
- 2 tbsp fresh marjoram leaves
- salt and black pepper
Core the tomatoes and chop into 1⁄4 inch cubes, reserving all the juices. In a large saute pan (10-12 inches), heat the olive oil over medium-high heat until smoking. Add the garlic and cook until light golden brown, about 30 seconds (watch carefully!). Add the tomatoes and their juices and cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the olives and remove from the heat.
Carefully add the gnocchi to the pan with the tomato mixture. Return the pan to the heat and toss gently until bubbling. Add the mozzarella and marjoram and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a warmed serving dish and serve immediately.