If you’ve come to regard gnocchi as stodgy or heavy, you aren’t alone. Many North Americans do, but they haven’t tried the light as a feather versions made in Calabria. Of course, Calabrians have a distinct advantage; their potatoes are delicious and have an almost sweet flavour. But any really good potatoes can be turned into these delicious pasta pillows. One trick is to score the surface of the gnocchi so they cook more quickly without becoming soggy.
Our local Soverato friend Antonio D’Ippolito is a helpful travel agent and terrific tour organizer who likes to cook in his spare time. This is one of his specialties and the photos are of him preparing his own gnocchi.
- 1.5 kg. russet potatoes, scrubbed
- 1 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp. coarse salt
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
Boil the potatoes in enough cold water to cover them and simmer. Remove from heat when fork tender. Drain the potatoes, and when cool, peel them. Ideally, use a potato ricer but failing this, mash them very well, until there are no lumps.
On a lightly floured surface, add the egg to the mashed potatoes and then add the flour and salt. Mix with your hands until moistened; the dough will be crumbly but will begin to clump. Gather the dough together and knead gently for about a minute until the flour is fully incorporated and the dough is soft, smooth, and a little sticky. Over-kneading will make the gnocchi tough. Move the dough to one side on the floured surface and cover with a clean kitchen towel.Spread parchment over two large rimmed baking sheets sprinkle lightly with flour.
Clean off and lightly re-flour your work surface. Tear off a piece of dough about the size of your fist and put the towel back to prevent the remaining dough from drying out. Roll it into a rope about 2 cm in diameter.
With a sharp knife cut the rope crosswise every 3 cm to make the gnocchi. Arrange them in a single layer on the baking sheets. Repeat until you run out of dough. Using a fine cheese grater, press gently on the surface of the gnocchi to score them. This is one of the secrets of really good gnocchi.
Drop gnocchi in small batches in boiling salted water for just a minute – until they rise to the surface. Scoop out.
Make your favourite tomato sauce and drop the gnocchi into it for a superb Italian supper. And don’t forget the grating of good Parmigiano for the top.