Monday, June 22, 2009

Gnocchi is Quick to Make in Small Amounts

As I've continued trolling the web for gnocchi info, I've seen lots of recipes that talk about setting aside hours for making them. And yes, if you intend to stock your freezer with many meals worth it can take a good while, just like making lots of Christmas cookies. But if you keep the batch small, it is suitably quick for an after-work supper. Starting with just one large potato in the microwave is the trick. I started at 5 and we had sweet potato gnocchi sauced and on the plate in a leisurely hour and a half -- including sitting, cooling and cooking times.

Ingredients for the gnocchi:
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and sliced
  • 1 egg
  • flour in about equal proportion to the amount of sweet potato when mashed
  • Salt, white pepper, and nutmeg (freshly ground)
Procedure (I do the first five steps all in the same bowl):
  1. Place the peeled and sliced sweet potato in a covered dish and microwave until mashable (approximately 6-8 minutes). Do not add water.
  2. Gently mash the sweet potatoes with a fork or hand masher. Use a potato ricer if you have one.
  3. Let the mashed potato cool enough so that it will not cook the egg (20 minutes or so).
  4. Add the egg, salt pepper and nutmeg and mix well with a fork. DO NOT use an electric mixer or a blender. The more you "beat up" the potatoes, the more flour they will need to form gnocchi.
  5. Using a sifter, start adding flour to the potato about 1/2 cup at a time, mixing after each addition. Use as little flour as possible to make a sticky ball that you can remove from the bowl.
  6. Divide the ball of dough in four and chill for 20-30 minutes to stiffen a bit.
  7. Remove a quarter of the dough and, using as little flour as possible, make 3/4 inch balls and shape each of these as desired. I roll them across the grooves on the bottom of an oven tile I use for cooking pizza. I've been known to "stamp" them with the tenderizing end of a meat hammer. Use your imagination. A simple thumb dent works, too.
  8. Place the gnocchi on a plate or cookie sheet leaving room between them. Either cook immediately or freeze.
Sweet potato gnocchi have a wonderfully mild taste with a hint of sweetness. One large sweet potato resulted in 50 good-sized gnocchi (4-6 servings depending on whether they are the main ingredient in supper).

To make sauced gnocchi for supper:
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and boil the gnocchi until they float.
  2. In a large pan with a cover, lightly saute chopped vegetables in olive oil.
  3. Add flavorings such a jarred pesto or tapenade, chopped garlic, etc.
  4. Finish the veggie sauce with a knob of butter if desired.
  5. Add the cooked gnocchi to the veggie sauce and stir.
  6. Cover and let simmer slowly for about 10 minutes to assure that the gnocchi lose their "flour taste."
  7. Serve with freshly grated cheese.
Last night it was sliced mushrooms, diced red pepper, and chopped baby romaine that was starting to wilt. Use whatever needs to be taken out of your veggie drawer. The cheese was Asiago. Yummy.

1 comment:

  1. I would forget cilantro ... but put mushrooms. The best is the Chinese dry mushrooms. Of coruse your hands are tight, or chicken goes very well with shrimps. Just 2 cents! Best, Feili


Imprecise & Inexpensive

Two themes predominate in my approach to cooking. 1. Daily cooking of flavorful food need not be a precise art. 2. You can be an adventurous cook on a budget. Cooking and eating should be fun for both cookers and eaters.