By Cat, June 2009 (Photo collage, right, from Wikimedia Commons)
Gnocchi are a cross between pasta and dumpling. Perhaps the best known are potato gnocchi, but they can be made from a variety of ingredients, including semolina, wheat flour, or bread crumbs. Also ricotta, with or without spinach, which is probably one of the original versions. The people around the Mediterranean were making gnocchi for centuries before the introduction of potatoes from the new world. Semolina or ricotta gnocchi were very common.
I feel a special affinity for potato gnocchi because they are related to one of my favorite foods: Lefse – Potato Flatbread from Scandinavia. Well, OK, lefse is cooked on a grill and gnocchi are boiled in water or milk, but the basic dough is very similar.
- Includes: 1. Gnocchi introduction; 2. Potato Gnocchi; 3. Potato Gnocchi with Gorgonzola Sauce; 4. Gnocchi alla Gorgonzola
- See also: 1. Ricotta or Semolina Gnocchi; 2.Gnocchi alla Romana (Baked Semolina Gnocchi); 3. Mediterranean Menu; 4. Pasta, Gnocchi, Rice Menu
Gnocchi is pronounced correctly as nyoh’-kee, but commonly mispronounced as nyah’-kee or noh’-kee; the ny sound is similar to ñ in Spanish. (You can listen to the pronunciation at howjsay.com (1)). An alternate spelling is ‘ñoqui’. Wikipedia (5) suggests the word means ‘lump’ and is derived from the Italian gnocchio (knot in wood), or nocca (knuckle)
Tips on Making Gnocchi
1. After forming the dough into a snake (or rope) about ¾” thick, and cutting it into 1″ pieces, you need to give the surface some texture so that your sauce will stick to them. This is done in either of two ways:
- Press, then roll each gnocchi against the tines of a fork, from the base of the tines to the tip; How-to-Make-Potato-Gnocchi video (3) shows how to use this method. If they tend to stick to the fork, dip fork in flour before forming each piece.
- Use the end of a fork handle, or the tip on the back side of a spoon to make a shallow indentation (lengthwise on the gnocchi), on two sides.
2. After forming the gnocchi, you can use them right away, refrigerate (covered) for later use in same day, or freeze for storage. Frozen gnocchi can be cooked without thawing first.
3. Cooking the gnocchi is done in lightly boiling water, and at the last minute, before serving. You do not want a roiling boil, because it will cause them to break apart. Just a gentle boil. They will sink to the bottom when you first add them, then float to the top when done. Remove with slotted spoon.
Potato gnocchi are becoming quite common in American grocery stores, but you can make your own. See Italian Food.about.com recipe by Kyle Phillips (2) or Gourmet Food.about.com recipe by Brett Moore (4) for a basic potato gnocchi recipes; or How to Make Potato Gnocchi (3) for a video recipe (video begins with an advertisement).
The basic ingredients are: potatoes, flour, and salt; most recipes also include egg. Different recipes vary on the amounts, so one must experiment. Brett Moore’s recipe (4) calls for 2 pounds russet potatoes, 2 cups flour, ¼ tsp salt and 1 large egg. Kyle Phillips’ recipe (2) calls for 2 ¼ pounds russet potatoes, 1 ½ cups flour, pinch of salt and no egg.
You can see that these recipes, which serve 4 as a main course, or 6 – 8 as a first course, are not consistent, which is typical.
I have not yet experimented, so do not have a recipe to offer.
Tips For potato gnocchi
- Use a mealy type of potato, such as russet; you want the mashed potato to be fairly dry (moisture makes them gluey when mashed). To cook them, either steam or bake. Boiling is not recommended because they will absorb too much water.
- Do not mash potatoes until fully cooled (no longer steaming). It’s best to use a mixer to mash them, because you don’t want any chunks. Some recipes recommend grating them, or using a ricer, but these methods will leave some chunks.
- It’s important to have enough (but not too much) flour in your gnocchi. If not enough, they will dissolve while cooking; if too much, they will be tough.
I’ve not yet made potato gnocchi, because I can now find them ready made at my locally-owned grocery. Let me know what works best for you!
Potato Gnocchi with Gorgonzola Sauce
I had lost my recipe for this. I remembered it as being very simple, so I tried the following (reduced proportionately to serve 1); see testing below. See also a recipe from Rogue Creamery, below.
Serves 4 as a main course.
Ingredients & Equipment:
- potato gnocchi (to serve 4)
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 1 leek (white part only) sliced thinly, crosswise; or 8 very thin slices of onion (crosswise, then cut into quarters)
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 – 3 cups (8 – 12 oz) crumbled gorgonzola
- Unrefined sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 3-quart saucepan (for cooking gnocchi)
- cast iron skillet
- Cook gnocchi in gently boiling water; remove with slotted spoon and keep warm.
- Melt butter in a skillet. Add leek, and saute until wilts.
- Stir in 2 – 3 cups crumbled gorgonzola cheese and 1 cup heavy cream until warmed.
- Check seasoning with Unrefined sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Toss cooked potato gnocchi with sauce to combine. Serve immediately.
Testing, June 2010
I made up a batch for 1 serving as follows: 2 very thin cross-wise slices of red onion, then cut into quarters; 3 cloves garlic, 1 Tbsp butter, ¼ cup heavy cream and 2 oz gorgonzola, crumbled. Using cast iron skillet, I sauteed onion and garlic in butter over very low heat (using simmer plate) until garlic softened. Then added cream and brought it to a boil. Stirred in cheese a bit at a time until melted. Adjusted seasoning with pepper. Cooked gnocchi in boiling water with freshly shelled peas, then spooned sauce over drained gnocchi/peas. Result: excellent.
Gnocchi alla Gorgonzola
This recipe, adapted from one by Oregon’s Rogue Creamery (and published in our local Daily Inter Lake newspaper) does not have a creamy sauce; rather the cheese is broken into chunks and tossed with the gnocchi. I’ve not tried it yet.
You can use potato or other gnocchi (but I far prefer potato). You can use an y blue cheese but I prefer gorgonzola or blue-brie. My Mom would have preferred Danish blue…
Ingredients & Equipment
- table or unrefined sea salt (for cooking water)
- 1 lb gnocchi
- 2 Tbsp pure olive oil
- ¼ cup dry white wine, such as Vermouth
- 2 Tbsp finely chopped, fresh parsley
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 8 oz finely crumbled Gorgonzola-Style blue cheese such as Oregonzola from Rogue Creamery (or the real deal)
- large saucepan
- small bowl
- serving bowls
- Chop fresh parsley finely; set aside. Crumbles gorgonzola into small bowl and set aside.
- Bring lightly-salted water to a boil; add gnocchi and cook gently according to package directions, just until they begin to float. Dan and return gnocchi to saucepan.
- Add olive oil and wine, tossing to coat. Add parsley and pepper to taste, and toss again.
- Add half the cheese and toss until cheese has mostly melted.
- Divide between serving bowls and top each with a bit of the remaining cheese.
- howjsay.com on pronunciation of gnocchi (howjsay.com/index.php?word=gnocchi&submit=Submit)
- Italian food.about.com, Kyle Phillips’ gnocchi recipe (italianfood.about.com/od/gnocchi/a/aa010298.htm)
- How to Make Potato Gnocchi video (video.about.com/italianfood/How-to-Make-Potato-Gnocchi.htm
- Brett Moore’s recipe for potato gnocchi (gourmetfood.about.com/od/cookingtechniques/ss/gnocchistep.htm)
- Wikipedia on Gnocchi (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gnocchi)
- Rogue Creamery (roguecreamery.com)