Ever since I got my KitchenAid stand mixer, the husband has been asking me when I’m going to make fresh pasta. I keep telling him, no, it’s not a pasta maker, the pasta maker is a separate attachment thingy that costs extra money. Well then what does that thing do? he asks, referring to the stand mixer. And then, I’ll admit, I’m at a bit of a loss because I’ve yet to see it perform a task that couldn’t have been done by either a hand mixer or my own hands.
It kneaded the challah dough! The challah dough that had to be kneaded for 10 whole minutes, which would’ve been a real pain to do with my own hands, aside from the fact that I had zero confidence in my ability to knead dough. But I did feel guilty using the mixer, like I was cheating. There was a lot of guilt surrounding that challah, which I’m sure had to do with Erev Yom Kippur. Anyway, what was I saying? The husband had been nagging me for fresh pasta, but we don’t have a pasta maker.
So. Gnocchi seemed an obvious solution since it doesn’t require any special equipment. In fact, in fact, I even kneaded the dough by hand for the very first time! Incredible, maybe, but you know I just got into bread baking, right? And that my first bread was a no-knead bread? And that my second bread was, too? No coincidence, by the way.
I know you’re probably thinking, what a slacker. Obviously she could’ve made pasta without a pasta roller. She could’ve rolled out sheets of pasta dough by hand to microscopic thinness and made ravioli or cut the dough into superskinny lines to make linguine or even squiggled the pasta dough into odd shapes. Yes, I could’ve done any of those things, but I was having a moment of sanity, and gnocchi seemed like the sane place to start.
And guess what? It’s true what everyone says, making gnocchi is seriously easy! All you do is bake some potatoes like you normally would, peel them and grate them on the large holes of your box grater, add some salt and egg and flour, knead it a bit (fun!), roll it out into snakes (you’ll have flashbacks to your preschool days of playing with Play-Doh), cut the snakes into little pillows, then drop the little pillows into boiling water and wait for them to float to the top (Why aren’t they floating? Why aren’t they floating? Why aren’t they rising to the top? Because it’s only been 30 seconds, Dale), drain, accessorize, and eat. I’ve oversimplified that a little, but don’t worry, the detailed instructions down below will ensure your success.
To think that I was so anxious about this all day, so consumed with thoughts of everything that could possibly go wrong and what the backup plan would be, that I completely forgot to make the Caesar salad that the husband had also requested (bad wife bad wife!). I thought the dough would be too watery or sticky or that the gnocchi would be gummy or dense or just bland. Thankfully, none of these prophecies came true.
The gnocchi was perfectly light and pillowy and just as good as any gnocchi I’ve had in a restaurant. But if you know how often I eat in restaurants, which is never, you may not trust me. That’s fine, you don’t have to.
In order to let the gnocchi shine, I didn’t want to glop on too much sauce. I was just going to douse it with some olive oil and sprinkle on some freshly ground pepper and Parmigiano-Reggiano. But then I decided to make an impromptu cream sauce and omg who knew that butter and cream simmered together could be so darn luscious? Wow.
Let’s just say that the gnocchi was designed to be the primi, but once I tasted it I lost interest in the rest of the meal. Oh, I took a few bites of the entree for good measure. Then I went back for another helping of gnocchi.
Christmas is coming up, and Santa, if you’re reading this, I’d really love a pasta roller attachment for my KitchenAid stand mixer. I’ve been a very good…oh, who am I kidding, I’ve been naughty. Also, I’m a Jew now, shit.
Homemade Gnocchi, adapted from About.com
- 2 lbs russet potatoes, scrubbed
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Pierce the potatoes all over with a fork and place them directly on the oven rack. Bake for about 45 minutes, until the potatoes can be easily pierced with a fork. Let cool slightly, then peel the potatoes and grate them on the large holes of a box grater, over a bowl.
- Add the egg and salt to the potatoes, and mix well with a wooden spoon to combine.
- Measure out the flour into a small bowl. This is all the flour you should use for the entire process, including flouring your work surface. Add a little flour at a time to the potato mixture, working in each addition with your hands. Keep adding flour a little at a time until the dough no longer sticks to your hands. You should add most of the flour, but not all of it.
- Lightly flour a work surface with some of the flour left in the bowl. Turn the dough out onto your work surface. To knead, press down and away with the heel of your hand, fold the dough over, make a quarter turn, and repeat the process. Knead for about 5 minutes, until the dough starts to feel elastic. Add a little flour from the bowl to your dough or the work surface if the dough starts to stick.
- Form the dough into a ball, then divide it into six smaller balls. Working with one at a time, roll each ball with your fingertips into a snake about 3/4-inch wide. Cut the dough into 1-inch pieces, and transfer the cut gnocchi onto a baking sheet. Make sure the underside of the gnocchi has just a light dusting of flour on it from your work surface so it won’t stick to the baking sheet.
- Meanwhile, set a large pot of salted water to boil. Once all your gnocchi has been cut and the water is boiling, drop the gnocchi into the water. After a few minutes, the gnocchi will float to the top. Cook for one more minute, then remove with a slotted spoon or strainer to a big strainer. Top with your sauce of choice (impromptu cream sauce recipe below).
Notes: Once all your gnocchi is cut, you can create those traditional ridges in it by pressing it against the tines of a fork, then rolling it up and over the fork (I don’t really get it, but you can look at the pictures on About.com). I decided this step was unnecessary because it has no effect on taste and at that point I just wanted to get that gnocchi boiling.
If you want to freeze the gnocchi, line them up on a baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and place in the freezer (this is so they won’t clump together in one big frozen gnocchi mass). Once they’re frozen, you can transfer them to a plastic freezer bag.
Impromptu Cream Sauce
- 1 Tbsp butter
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- about 1/4 cup frozen peas
- about 1 cup cream
- salt and pepper, to taste
In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and cook for about one minute. Add the frozen peas and the cream and stir to combine. Simmer over low to medium-low heat until the sauce thickens slightly. Taste, and season with salt and pepper.Print This Recipe