As you might expect from yesterday’s post, we had a lot of leftover pizza sauce. But, the way we make it, it can be used as a starter for almost any tomato-based dish. For instance, Basil Gnocchi with tomato-basil sauce. Gnocchi has a reputation for being tricky, but, as we’ve shown in our basic Gnocchi recipe, it is undeserved. The trick is always to work with a fluffing motion on the dough, not mixing, nor mashing, and you’ll end up with light gnocchi.
We thought about making just plain Gnocchi; they are really good, especially with a light tomato sauce. Then we thought, it’s no more trouble to add a bit of basil for color and flavor, and it’ll move the dish up a notch from the ordinary. So, why not? Isn’t that why you make food from scratch?
Makes about 50 Gnocchi
- 2 large Russet potatoes, baked and cooled
- 1 Tbs dried basil
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, approximately
We planned ahead a bit here; we knew we were baking something else, so we scrubbed up a few potatoes and tossed them into the oven. We try to use naturally grown or organic potatoes, but, honestly, this time we didn’t. For gnocchi, that’s actually not too bad, as we will remove and discard the skins. Eggs were from free- ranging, foraging hens; it makes a difference.
Peel potatoes. After your potatoes have cooled to room temperature, remove all the skins and any discolored spots.
Shred potatoes. Using an implement of your choice, shred the potatoes. You could use a grater as we did (it’s pretty easy), or you could drag a fork along the potatoes to form shreds (that’s easy, too). We’ve also heard a ricer works well. Just don’t mash them.
Dust with flour, basil, and salt. Sprinkle a tablespoon or two of flour over the potato shreds, add the basil and salt, and fluff the potatoes with a fork to coat.
Add egg. Crack the egg into the potatoes, break the yolk, and again fluff the potatoes to coat.
Add 1/4 cup flour. Sprinkle flour over the surface of the potatoes, and, yep, you guessed it, fluff the potatoes to coat. It gets a bit harder as the dough forms, but really, keep scooping the fork under the dough and lifting and breaking the dough apart.
Add remaining flour. Again, sprinkle the flour over the dough, fluff until mostly mixed.
Roll out. Turn the dough unto a well floured counter, lightly knead the dough a couple of times, then start rolling out into a long skinny rope. Work gently, gently.
Cut. Using a sharp knife, cut the gnocchi about an inch long, squeeze each one lightly in the middle, and place on a baking sheet.
Freeze. Place the baking sheet in the freezer and let the gnocchi freeze solid. They are easier to work with frozen. If you plan to have gnocchi another day, place them in a freezer bag once solid. Otherwise, just use them frozen directly off the sheet.
Boil. Bring several quarts of water to a boil, and scoop the gnocchi in, about 20 at a time. They will sink, but once they float back to the surface, they’re done. Remove with a slotted spoon and serve with your favorite sauce.
Gnocchi and sauce is one of our favorite dishes. When done correctly, they are light little pillows that are so tender that they just sort of melt in your mouth. We will have to say that they take a certain technique to get just right, a technique on which we’ll always be working. But, even when they turn out a bit rubbery and dense, they still taste good, so it’s not too bad eating the failures, and it gives us a reason to try again. Fives!