Gnocci, pronounced 'no-chee' or 'knee-yo-kee'... I don't know, I hear it both ways. Personally I pronounce it knee-yo-kee'. I also pronounce this dish delicious! The bright flavor of fresh tomatoes from my very own plants, paired with fresh sage, also from my very own plants lends very well to the tender, chewy texture of the gnocci, fresh from the water... perfect for a rainy fall day.
Ok, so it's basically fall; let's just get it out there. The party is over, summer has packed up, see ya next year. At some point. Maybe. If you're lucky... or at least that's how it works here in the Northwest. Just when I get in the groove of summer, poof! It's magically gone and I'm left to fend for myself amongst the pouring down rain, golden leaves and start of school. Alright, it's not THAT bad... but it's bad enough. Boo. Summer is gone. And so is my rant.
Actually, although it's sad to see summer go, there is something fun about kicking your feet in the leaves, turning on the fireplace, working on all those rainy day projects and the food. Oh the food. Comfort food. That is what this meal was alla bout... the first high carb comfort food of the impending season. And it was delicious :)
I had never made gnocci before but I had been pondering the idea; and then, in preparation for our upcoming jaunt to Italy (it's coming soon!) my mom pulled out an italian cookbook that was so cool! Regional Italian Cuisine - Authentic Recipes and Cooking Techniques From Every Region of Italy. It had italian food of all region, style and flavor. There were beautiful pictures and very interesting information. She happened to flip to the gnocci page and said we should make it. I then told her I had been kicking that very idea around! Le Terre also has some lovely italian cookbooks.
So on this rainy day I made my very own gnocci... and you can too! Thank you to my fantastic Honey for helping my flour caked hands take pictures of the process :) Also, in true Ellen fashion, I did adapt the recipe a little!
Yields about 8 dozen gnocci
2 pounds potatoes, cooked, peeled and pressed through a ricer. (I used yukon gold right from the ground of a local farmer although the cookbook calls for baker potatoes.)
1 3/4 cups unbleached white flour
About 2 teaspoons salt
(note: the book just said 'salt' which was a little frightening because you have to 'decide' what that means. I put in about 2 teaspoons... maybe a smidge more. They were lovely)
For the sauce:
1 1/2 pounds fresh tomatoes
3-4 cloves garlic, chopped fine or smashed through a garlic press
1 onion, chopped fine
Extra virgin olive oil for cooking
4-6 fresh sage leaves, chopped
Salt and pepper
Begin by washing and boiling your potatoes.
While your potatoes are cooking, prepare your sauce by blanching tomatoes in hot water then transferring them to an ice bath. From the ice bath, peel their skin off and chop.
Saute the garlic and onion in a pan with a little olive oil. Let cook until translucent, about 5 minutes.
Add the chopped tomato to the pan and let cook for about 10 minutes then add the sage and salt and pepper, stir well, turn heat down to medium, cover and let cook another 10 minutes or so.
After 10 minutes, turn heat down to low/med and let cook. Note: throughout the gnocci making process, remember to stir your sauce every once in a while.
When the potatoes are done, peel skins using a knife. My varietal, yukon gold, fell off really easily.
Flour your 'kneading' surface well and using a ricer, press each potato through onto your well floured surface.
Sprinkle your potatoes with salt and then distribute about 1 1/2 cups of the flour evenly on top.
Begin mixing the potato/flour mixture with your hands. Note: in the beginning it seems as if it will not come together into a dough, keep kneading, it will.
As the dough comes together, you can add the remainder of the flour if you need it. You do not want the dough to be sticky.
Once formed into a ball, separate into six smaller balls. Working with one ball at a time, lightly flour your surface and roll it out into an even cord. From there, slice your cord into about 1 inch pieces. Holding it's shape with your fingers, gently press the back of a fork into each side, creating a little design. Stack in a lidded container, using parchment paper to separate the layers. Repeat for all dough balls.
Note: from here you can cook the gnocci fresh or freeze them for later. If you would like to freeze them, put them in the freezer on a cookie tray, until cold then transfer to freezer bags or an airtight container and return to the freezer.
I did not freeze my gnocci so I will continue...
Check your sauce, since you have been stirring every once in a while you should have a feel for what it's doing but now is the time to taste it since you have let the sage and salt and pepper 'infuse' the sauce. If it needs a little more salt and/or pepper, add it.
To cook the gnocci, bring a pot of salted water to a boil and drop them in one by one. They will sink to the bottom; you know they're done when the float to the top. Mine took about 4 or 5 minutes.
Remove with a slotted spoon and put on a serving plate or bowl then continue with the next batch. I did about a dozen at at time, to prevent them from sticking together.
With your freshly cooked gnocci on your serving plate, simply top with your fantastic tomato sauce. Note: put as much or as little of the sauce as you like... there is no right or wrong but you do want to be able to taste everything this dish has to offer.
The flavor of the fresh tomatoes and garlic pair so nicely with the chewy gnocci... it was a huge hit in our household and I hope it is in yours too!