Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Making (faux) gnocchi

Gnocchi are traditional Italian dumplings made out of a very difficult, time consuming potato dough. It involves cooking potatoes and then peeling and grating scorching hot potatoes by hand. I avoid all that drama and use a packet of dry mashed potatoes mix. The traditionalist may be outraged, but I assure you the gnocchi are equally good and nobody will notice the difference.

I start by putting the mashed potatoes mix and a half of teaspoon of salt into the mixer and then prepare the mashed potatoes according to the instruction on the packet. Basically pouring boiling water and hot milk and stir well.

Then I add one large egg and 250 grams of cottage cheese. The cottage cheese is optional or can be substituted with ricotta or mascarpone.

Then I let the mixer do the work. After the egg and cottage cheese are completely blended in, I slowly start adding flour. I never measure the amount of flour, but rather add as I go along, until I get the desired dough consistency.

I reckon I use about 750 grams of coarse ground wheat flour.

I dust my cutting boards with flour. This is where I place my gnocchi to be frozen. Some people only make enough dough for one portion and they cook them immediately. That's fine too, but I can't really spare the time to make fresh gnocchi every time. Besides they freeze wonderfully and are excellent to have at hand for emergencies a.k.a. unannounced guests.

After the dough is mixed I take it out of the mixer on a flour coated counter and proceed to knead it by hand. Here comes the artistic bit of the gnocchi making process: After the dough is kneaded all that remains is to make little dumplings by shaping them into little balls. This is the most time consuming part of the process.

And ta-da! There they are. I used some whole wheat flour for this batch as well as coarse wheat flour. If there existed a gnocchi beauty pageant I'm sure mine wouldn't win any prizes but I assure you that after they are cooked and served with a delicious sauce, their appearance is the last thing people comment on.

After they've been in the freezer long enough to harden, about 2 hours, I transfer them to a zip lock bag and put them back in the freezer.


  1. Very time consuming even with the short cut! But they look great. In Italy I watched my husband's 70 year old aunt roll, cut, and pinch gnocchi with lightning speed! Years of practice!

  2. Mandy: Grandmothers are a force to be reckoned with! My grandmother used to mix sweet bread dough with a wooden spatula. At least two kilos of heavy, thick dough that has to be continually mixed for a period of 30 to 45 minutes