Homemade gnocchi

Homemade gnocchi

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This gnocchi recipe has been a classic six months or more in the making. It feels like all I've been doing since Christmas is talking about making gnocchi. I spent most of Easter Sunday exchanging potato ricer tips, do I need a drum sieve? What even is a drum sieve? And on and on.

I decided I couldn't afford any of these apparently necessary gadgets until my next pay cheque, which kept on mysteriously getting spent on totally necessary things like the extra nice tin of coffee, the Hackney Wild bread, that taxi home... you know the score. It looked like gnocchi wasn't going to happen until Christmas Day.

That was until I came across Isa Chandra Moskowitz's recipe in Vegan with a Vengeance, in which she straight-up says that actually you don't need a crazy number of accouterments to start making gnocchi. What's more, her ingredients list was a nice four items long.

After making this recipe I would say maybe you might want the potato ricer, and definitely set aside half a day to make these- they require a fair bit of patience with waiting for potatoes to cool etc. But as a first attempt at gnocchi, this was fun, easy and super cheap.

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Homemade pasta can be tricky to deal with at first so if you need any help I would check out Gennaro Contaldo's youtube clips, or Michela Chiappa's Simply Italian series on Channel Four- they both give loads of tips and making pasta is something you improve with so much each time through trial and error. I think as long as the end result is edible, it's always worth the effort!

This recipe is adapted from Isa Chandra Moskowitz's recipe, although as I mentioned above, I think using a potato ricer and perhaps doing them from boiled and not baked would speed up the process. If you don't have a potato ricer, follow this recipe and bake them, as it gets a good dry mash from the potatoes.

Makes enough for six hungry people (why wouldn't you be, there's gnocchi cooking!)

Ingredients

900g potatoes, washed and scrubbed

2 tbsp olive oil

1/2 teaspoon of salt

175g-200g plain flour (I would try and use '00' flour if you can get your hands on it) 

Semolina or rice flour for keeping the pasta in shape  

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius. With a knife, pierce each potato four or five times and bake them in the oven for an hour.  

They should be totally cooked through when ready, so test with a fork or a skewer. Then remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack completely- this takes a lot of patience but might be half an hour or so.

 

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Peel off the skins and place the cooled potatoes in a large mixing bowl. Add the oil and salt and mash- they don't need blending or pureering, as this will release more moisture which you don't want in the pasta dough. So just mash until there are very few lumps, and begin to add half of the flour a little at a time until it is all incorporated. Now turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and start to add the other half, until the dough is smooth and unsticky- you may not need all the flour so just keep it on hand for rolling.

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Cut the dough into thirds and roll each portion into a rope shape about 1cm thick. Then cut the ropes into about 2cm pieces- I just used my thumb to measure but yours might be bigger! If you want to go in for the gnocchi with grooves, roll each little gnocchi across the base of a fork with your thumb, so half has grooves and half is folded in on itself from your thumb. I love making it this way as you get bits of sauce and olive oil in the pockets of pasta, but if you want to keep it simple, just roll each gnocchi into a ball. 

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Put the prepared gnocchi in a tray or shallow dish with a sprinkling of semolina or rice flour- this keeps the pasta from sticking or drying out, but falls off when boiled so you don't need to worry about it changing the flavour or texture of the gnocchi. 

Boil a large pan of well-salted water and pop in the gnocchi- I do this in batches so as not to crowd the pan, and once they float to the top, leave for another 30 seconds before spooning out onto a plate. If you're adding sauce, I like to cook them once more in that, or you can eat them plain just with olive oil or pesto. 

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