I’ve been lusting after the pasta attachments for my KitchenAid. Dreaming of them, of all the beautiful pasta I would make if I had them. Oh man. I want them so badly. But I don’t have them. And I probably won’t for a while. But I want to make pasta, so I after eyeing a few gnocchi recipes, I thought, hell, I’ll try it.
This may not have been my best decision ever. I mean, you have to start somewhere, right? But I decided to do it when we had a friend coming for dinner. But she was supportive of my endeavors. After reading many recipes and such about how to handle your potatoes and how much flour and egg to add, onward I went. One important thing is you don’t want to put your potatoes in a food processor or use an immersion blender or anything like that. You want to put it through a ricer or a grater or mash it with a fork. I chose the last route.
These gnocchi were pretty good for a first try. As I mentioned before, I think they were a little over-cooked. They also were a little dense, and I’m not sure why. There are a few possible explanations: 1) boiling them instead of roasting them? 2) added to much flour? 3) added too much egg? Who knows, but all of these are variables I plan on futzing with the next time around.
Potato Gnocchi and Spicy Tomato Sauce
2 lbs russet potatoes
1 tsp salt
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 1/2 cups flour, plus some for rolling/dusting
Spicy Tomato Sauce
1 tsp butter
2-3 large shallots
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp salt
1 28-oz can whole tomatoes, drained
1 15-oz can tomato puree/sauce
a pinch (or two) of sugar
Cut your potatoes in half and put them in a pot of water. Bring the pot to a boil and cook until the potatoes are tender throughout. This will take about 40-50 minutes. When the potatoes are cooked, remove each half one at a time onto a cutting board and peel each piece before you move onto the next. Be careful as they’ll be very hot! But the skins come off pretty easy, and if not, just use a paring knife. Once all the potatoes are removed and peeled, mash them. I used a fork so that I could be more thorough and make sure there weren’t any big clumps. Anyway, mash the potatoes and spread them out on the cutting board so that they can cool.
Once cool, put the potatoes in a bowl, add the egg and salt and mix together. Now add the flour a little bit at a time (I probably did 1/4 cup at a time) and mix it in. You don’t have to add all the flour. In fact, it’s probably better if you don’t (I don’t know this for a fact) because I assume the gnocchi will be less dense when cooked. Just add flour until the dough doesn’t stick to your hands anymore. Now dump the dough onto a lightly floured surface (read: counter) and knead it gently for a few minutes, incorporating more flour if necessary.
After kneading, divide the dough into 6 equal parts, and roll each chunk one at a time into a rope about 3/4 inch thick. Cut each rope into 1 inch pieces. You’ll want to be sure to do this on a floured surface, as the rolling and cutting especially can result in the dough stick to the counter, which makes it hard to…ya know…remove them.
While you’re rolling out your dough, you can bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. When it’s boiling, add the gnocchi in batches. I made the mistake of putting all of mine in at once and I think this caused the ones that were put in at the beginning. So do it in batches. After a little bit, your gnocchi will rise to the top of the pot. Let them cook for another minute after they do that, and then remove them with a slotted spoon to a bowl or colander or whatever. Do the same with the rest of the gnocchi.
I also decided to cook them in a pan after boiling them for 2 reasons: 1) they were pretty mushy and I wanted to dry them out a bit, and I knew this would help. 2) I love gnocchi that has that little bit of crunch from being lightly seared in a pan of butter. Yum. So if you want to do that, melt a bit of butter in a pan and cook the gnocchi in batches until it’s lightly browned on each side.
Spicy Tomato Sauce
Be warned, this pasta sauce has quite a bite to it from the chili flakes. I thought it was a perfect amount of spiciness, but if you are nervous about it, add less than 1/2 a tsp and add more till it suits your tastebuds.
Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the shallots, pepper flakes, and salt. Cook until the shallots are translucent and beginning to brown. At this point, add the wine and let it cook down. Now add the whole tomatoes and tomato puree, breaking the whole tomatoes up with a wooden spoon as they cook. Taste the sauce, and if it’s a little too spicy, add some sugar (a little bit at a time) and perhaps some wine. Allow the sauce to cook down until it’s the right consistency and put it atop your favorite pasta (or perhaps the gnocchi you just made).