Originally from a post at keeping feet on 1/10/2007
On weeknights, normally the goal is to think up a recipe that is easy, fast, and can be thrown together without much work or thinking after a long day at the office. Yesterday afternoon, however, we had nothing planned, so I schemed to try a meal that I hadn't tried to cook before, that was much more involved than the normal evening dinner: gnocchi.
Josh and I had each only eaten gnocchi once before, when Daniel's family came to Indy while he was here for the summer, and they made it from scratch for us. It looked like fun, and I had come across a couple recipes for it on the internet, and thought it would be a fun family activity which would conveniently result in dinner.
While researching recipes, I discovered cooks have very strong opinions regarding gnocchi ingredients. The first opinion is that eggs should not be used. ("Lots of recipes around advocate the use of eggs - that's because they are lazy.") Other food bloggers are equally adamant that salt does not belong in gnocchi ("What absolutely does not come in the gnocchi is salt.") That said, there are only 3 ingredients in gnocchi: potato, flour, and egg or salt (though some call for both). The final product is something like a small dumpling, but it's preparing it that is the fun!
First, I boiled 3 medium potatoes until they were soft all the way through. Many recipes insist on using a potato ricer on the hot potatoes at this point, others say to mash them. I decided to simulate a potato ricer by shredding the potatoes with a cheese grater. To the potatoes, I added 1/4 tsp of salt. The recipe said to add 'up to 2 cups of flour' until the mixture is a firm dough and not sticky. I added probably 1-1/4 cups.
Then comes the fun part. take pieces of dough, roll them out to 1-inch-diameter ropes, cut off 1-inch pieces, and roll the pieces with your thumb on fork tines, to get lines on one side of the gnocchi, an indent on the other. Fun part #2: to cook the gnocchi, we brought salted water to a boil and dropped the pieces into they water. They sink to the bottom. When they start to float, they're done! Josh did this part, and removed them with a slotted spoon. We ate the dish with spaghetti sauce, but there's lots of different sauces and toppings possible. I had the leftovers for lunch today and was pleased yet again. I would have taken pictures, but I was having too much fun making them, and then they were gobbled up to quickly.
Not only are these fun to make and eat, they're a very inexpensive meal: 3 potatoes, a cup or so of flour and some water was all it took. As Josh said, the sauce was the expensive part of the meal.