Wait!! Don't ex out of this page just yet! If you're intimidated by making gnocchi from scratch, don't be! This dough comes together very easily, and while it can be a bit time consuming to roll and cut the gnocchi, its quick work if you have a helper or two. I personally find the whole process calming and relaxing -- cut! roll! shape! -- and just think of how much culinary street cred you'll get when you can tell your friends and guests that no, you did not get these at the supermarket, and yes, you made them with your very own two hands, just like a real Italian nonna. And how do they taste?! These are fluffy and cloud-like, perfect when tossed with toasty cozy sage butter and freshly grated Parmesan cheese, a million times better than any store-bought gnocchi you'll ever eat. They were a perfect New Year's Eve dinner for my family when I was home, and if you needed any more convincing: this recipe comes from one of the major authorities on Italian cooking here in the U.S, Lidia Bastianich, so you know these are going to be good.
A couple of notes: I boiled the potatoes here, but you can also bake them in an oven at 400°F for about 40 minutes, or until they're easily pierced with a fork. The gnocchi should be cooked just as they are made, otherwise they should be frozen and eaten at a different time. To freeze for later - Lidia suggests you arrange the gnocchi as soon as they're shaped in a single layer on a baking pan and place the pan in the freezer until they're solid, about 3 hours. Gather the frozen gnocchi into resealable freezer bags and store for up to 4-6 weeks. Finally, I made both a tomato basil sauce and a brown butter and sage sauce (as I did with these canederli and these squash pancakes) to serve these -- the tomato basil sauce was for my lovely lactose intolerant sister-in-law!! -- but these are also delicious with ragù. Finally, Lidia (and many other cooks) shape their gnocchi using the tines of a fork. I prefer to slice mine directly from the ropes, so they're more square than round (we'll say they're more "rustic"?) but I save a lot of time this way (plus, I saw a chef on who cut gnocchi the same way while recently watching an episode of La Prova del Cuoco with my grandfather, so I think it's a legitimate way to do it!) If you prefer to use a fork to shape the gnocchi, I have included Lidia's directions below.
Hold the tines of a fork at a 45-degree angle to the table with the concave part facing up. Dip the tip of your thumb in flour. Take one ball of dough and with the tip of your thumb, press the dough lightly against the tines of the fork as you roll it downward toward the tips of the tines. As the dough wraps around the tip of your thumb, it will form into a dumpling with a deep indentation on one side and a ridged surface on the other.
Looking for other dumpling recipes? Check out these canederli! Want a potato side dish instead of a potato pasta? Allow me to suggest these decadent mashed potatoes. Want more pasta? Click here.
3 large baking potatoes (about 1 3/4 pounds or 785 grams)
1 large egg
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
1/4 cup (28 grams, one ounce) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 cups (200 grams) flour, or as needed
Butter and sage to serve
Place the potatoes in a large pot with enough cold water to cover. Bring the water to a boil and cook, partially covered, until the potatoes are easily pierced with a fork but the skins are not split, about 35 minutes.
Drain the potatoes and wait until they are just cool enough to handle (note that the hotter the potatoes are when they are peeled and riced, the lighter the gnocchi will be.) Working quickly and protecting the hand that holds the potatoes with a folded kitchen towel, scrape the skin from the potato with a paring knife (as you can see from the photo I started with a potato peeler, but the skins come off so easily this isn't necessary). Press the peeled potatoes through a potato ricer. Spread the riced potatoes into a thin, even layer on the work surface, without pressing them or compacting them. Let them cool completely.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Drop about half the gnocchi into the boiling water a few at a time, stirring gently and continuously with a wooden spoon. Cook the gnocchi, stirring gently, until tender, about 1 minute after they rise to the surface. (You can cook the gnocchi all at once in two separate pots of boiling water. If you make a double batch of gnocchi, I strongly recommend cooking them in batches in two pots of water.)
Remove the gnocchi from the water with a slotted spoon as they rise to the top, draining them well, and transfer to a wide saucepan with some of the sauce to be used (learn how to make brown butter here). Toss lightly and serve immediately, topped with lots of freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Serves 3-4 as a main course or 6 as a first course.