Ever made gnocchi at home? Becca shows how it's easier and tastier than you might think, especially if sauteed before after boiling. You'll get a beautifully crispy exterior to supplement the flavour of your sauce.
Confession: this is the first time I've ever made gnocchi. Honestly, I've never really seen the point of it before. Whenever I've had it at restaurants, it's just been dense, squishy dumplings that don't really taste of much, and I've always thought that pasta would have been much nicer.
My opinion has never changed quicker than when I had my first bite of this gnocchi. This stuff was good
I think the gnocchi I've had at restaurants has always been boiled and then served straight away in a sauce, which means that it doesn't really end up very exciting - boiling isn't exactly the cooking method that's best known for instilling a great texture in food. However, I sautéed my gnocchi after boiling, which gives it a beautiful crispy exterior, and a buttery flavour infuses itself throughout. The transformation that occurs with just a few minutes in a frying pan is unbelievable!
Overall I think my first attempt at gnocchi was a big success. I'll admit they aren't the most perfectly rolled or the most evenly shaped gnocchi I've ever seen, but I like to think that just adds to the satisfaction of having made them from scratch. Don't worry if yours look a bit ugly like mine did before you sauté them - once they've got those crispy brown sides, nobody will care what shape they are.
I served my gnocchi in a really simple, light sauce. The dumplings themselves are really filling, so anything else would be far too heavy. I made a simple garlic butter sauce with a squeeze of lemon, some pine nuts and basil, and I topped it all off with some shaved parmesan and a few leaves of rocket. Simple flavours but they all go beautifully together.
Sautéed gnocchi in simple garlic butter sauce
For the gnocchi:
750g potatoes (2 large potatoes)
200g plain flour, plus more for rolling and shaping
1 egg, lightly beaten
For the sauce:
6 cloves garlic, chopped
3tbsp fresh basil, chopped
2tbsp lemon juice
3tbsp pine nuts
Handful rocket leaves
30g vegetarian parmesan-style cheese
3tbsp extra virgin olive oil
To begin the gnocchi, you need to cook the potatoes. I baked mine at 190°C (Gas Mark 5 / 375°F) for around 2 hours (prick the skins a few times first), until cooked through. Yours might take a little less or more time, depending on the size of your potatoes. Alternatively you can boil them, but this method will make the potato wetter, so you might need to add more flour later.
When the potatoes are fully cooked, scoop out the flesh - the skins can be discarded or saved for an alternative use. Mash the potato flesh thoroughly - use a ricer if you have one, or pass the flesh through a sieve. Combine the potato flesh with the flour, a good amount of salt, and the egg (I did this straight onto a floured worktop but you can use a bowl if you prefer). Mix with your hands until it all comes together into a dough - you might need to add a little more flour if your potatoes were particularly wet.
Roll the mixture out until it's around 1.5cm thick, and cut into 1.5cm strips. Roll each strip into a sausage (again you might need another sprinkling of flour to stop it sticking to the worktop), and cut into chunks - mine were around 3cm long. If you want to get the traditional lines printed into the side of the gnocchi, press each piece gently with the back of a fork and roll a little.
Bring a large pan of water to the boil, and drop the gnocchi in - you don't want to overcrowd the pan, so you might need to do a few batches. When the gnocchi start to float (they won't take long!), give them another twenty seconds or so, and then remove them from the pan with a slotted spoon.
The gnocchi are now edible, but I think they're much nicer if you sauté them.
Melt the butter in a large frying pan, and add the gnocchi in a single layer (again, you'll probably need to do a couple of batches - if so, only use half of each ingredient to begin with). Cook over a medium-high heat for several minutes, until the underside of each dumpling is golden brown. Turn each piece over (I found this was most easily done using tongs as they can be a bit slippery), and repeat on the other side.
After the second side has been cooking for a minute or so, add the garlic and turn the heat down to medium-low. Add the basil, lemon juice, pine nuts and plenty of seasoning, and cook for 1 more minute.
Serve the gnocchi topped with some fresh rocket and some shavings of parmesan, drizzled with a glug of extra virgin olive oil.
Inspired? For more gnocchi recipes visit Great British Chefs collection.