Potato Gnocchi Recipe

Potato Gnocchi

I have recently found myself with a bit of a potato glut, a rather unusual state of affairs for me. It being spring, all the potatoes wanted to do was sprout, however careful I was to keep them in a cool, dark place. Unable to temper their enthusiasm, I did what any responsible cook would do: I embraced the potato theme and cooked them in all sorts of different ways over a few weeks.

With the baking potatoes (the floury ones that fall apart when cooked), I made baked potatoes (creative, I know), potato skins (with the leftover baked potatoes), home fries, and Jo Jo potatoes; with the waxy ones (the yellow-fleshed variety that retains its shape when cooked) I made sautéed potatoes in my new/old cast-iron skillet; with a mix of both, I baked a very simple, very good gratin dauphinois that I must make again, photograph, and tell you about.

I also took this potato manna as a sign that it was finally time to try my hand at potato gnocchi, an endeavor I had long itched to undertake: I had made ricotta gnocchi and speculoos gnocchi in the past, but had yet to attempt a potato-based version.

I used the basic proportions given in an article I’d clipped out of the British Olive magazine, and all went smoothly. At first, I feared I had not mashed the potatoes thoroughly enough, but I ignored the tiny lumps and forged ahead, experimenting with different shapes for the pillows of dough (ovals or corks, mostly), and trying to gain a semblance of dexterity through the process.

Most recipes I found have you roll the gnocchi against the tines of a fork to create the signature indentations that will help the sauce cling to them, but I’d read somewhere that you could also use the lower part of a wire whisk — where the wires all gather and throw themselves into the handle — and that method worked much better for me.

Maxence and I ate half of the batch that night — I froze the rest for another day — with white asparagus tips, lemon verbena butter, and a sprinkle of pecorino shavings. I was delighted with the outcome: the gnocchi turned out plump and tender, fluffy on the inside, with a hint of a blond crust from the pan-frying step.

The recipe produces plain potato gnocchi to dress with the sauce of your choice, but you can certainly play around with flavorings, incorporating herbs, dried or fresh, garlic, saffron, truffle juice… Any favorites to share?

Potato Gnocchi

- 600 grams (1 1/3 pounds) unpeeled baking potatoes (the kind you would use for mashed potatoes; not waxy)
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 200 grams (7 ounces, about 1 2/3 cups) flour

Serves 4.

Place the scrubbed but unpeeled potatoes in a pan of cold water, bring to a boil, add a bit of coarse salt, and boil for 20 minutes, or until a knife can be inserted easily through their center.

Alternatively, as Hannah helpfully suggested in the comments, you can bake the potatoes instead: wrap the potatoes in foil and roast them in a 220° [430°F] oven until tender — for 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on their size. The potato flesh will be drier then and will require less added flour to form into a dough, resulting in lighter gnocchi.

Peel the potatoes while still hot. You can use a folded dishtowel to hold the hot potato; I slice the potato in two, place it cut side down on a cutting board, and peel off the skin from each half with the tip of a knife while barely touching them.

Mash the peeled potatoes thoroughly in a medium mixing bowl, using a potato masher or ricer (avoid overmashing). Stir in the egg and salt. Add about three quarters of the flour and stir it in. As soon as it is absorbed, turn the dough out on a lightly floured work surface. Knead it quickly until smooth but still a little tacky. If you find it is really too sticky to work with, add a little more of the flour. Avoid overkneading or the gnocchi will be tough.

Divide the dough in four pieces. Place three of them on a lightly floured plate and in the fridge while you work on the fourth.

Roll the piece of dough into a log, then continue to roll it with the palms of your hands to form a long sausage, about 2 cm (3/4″) in diameter. Add a little more flour on your work surface and on the dough as needed. Using a knife, cut the sausage in short, pillow-like sections, about 2.5 cm (1″) in width.

Using well-floured hands, shape each pillow into a somewhat oval or cork-like shape, and press it against the base of a wire whisk to create indentations. Reserve the dumpling on a lightly floured plate and repeat with the rest of the sections. Place the plate in the fridge, and repeat with the rest of the dough. This can be done a few hours ahead.

At this point, the gnocchi can be frozen: arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet that fits inside your freezer and freeze for an hour, or until hardened, before transferring to an airtight container. (If you skip the single layer thing, they will clump up into a mass and you’ll be sorry.)

To cook the gnocchi (fresh or still frozen), drop them in a pan of simmering salted water, working in batches if necessary so they’re not too crowded. After a few minutes, the gnocchi will rise to the surface (you may have to loosen them slightly if they’ve stuck to the bottom of the pan); cook for 2 more minutes starting from that moment. Fish them out of the pan with a slotted spoon and reserve in a colander while you poach the remaining batches.

Reheat and sauté the gnocchi in a skillet in a little olive oil or butter before serving as is, or with the sauce of your choice.

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  • http://mpinard.blogspot.com Margaret

    So I got distracted by the speculoos reference, and am intrigued. My one and only memory of this name is from Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amelie Poulain, and I’m wondering if they are available in the U.S? Never seen them. And while potato gnocchi may take some time to marinate in my brain and come to life, I have just made (this morning before work!) your radish leaf pesto and am excited to sample the results tonight at dinner. Thank you for such a fun, witty, informative, and enticing blog!

  • http://firefliesofhope.com Gwendolyn

    Thank you for triggering a fond gnocchi memory for me. Twenty-six years ago, as a young Christian missionary in Argentina, I sat at a well-worn kitchen table with my chin in my hands as I watched my 80-year-old land lady make gnocchi. It was a lovely, zen-like experience to watch an expert create these soft little pillows.

    Their heavenly taste and texture spoiled me from ever purchasing pre-packaged, gluey “attempts” (I can’t even call them gnocchi). When we were in Rome last year, I finally tasted another bit of gnocchi heaven. I’ll try my hand at making my own, now. Thanks for the recipe.

  • http://smallkitchenbigideas.wordpress.com Sara

    I love gnocchi.

    One of the best recipes I’ve made is actually from Mastering the Art of French Cooking. You make pate choux and fold in the mashed potatoes. The gnocchi come out light and airy.

  • http://www.culinarymorsels.blogspot.com charlene

    You have sparked the need to try gnocchi. Your recipe leaves nothing out.

  • http://80breakfasts.blogspot.com joey

    I like it with brown butter and sage…or pesto and pancetta :)

  • http://www.coffeebeansandcurryleaves.blogspot.com Sarah (Coffee Beans and Curry Leaves)

    I second the browned butter and sage…mmm! Thanks for the great recipe!

  • http://dailyunadventures.com Katerina

    Great tip with the whisk! I have only tried them once and they didn’t come out great, just okay.

  • http://dajana-bakerscorner.blogspot.com Dajana

    Those are beautiful, really. I’m lucky to have a neighbour who makes them often and she always brings me some. My favourite way so far was seasoning them with cream sauce and then baking in the oven. I couldn’t stop eating them.

  • http://thekitchenette.wordpress.com The Kitchenette

    Mmmmm gnocchi. I’m putting this on my list of stuff to make… the list is only 19385928375 items long now!

  • Christie

    I’ve made homemade gnocchi but twice. Once I made pure potato gnocchi tossed with basil pesto. The other time, I made winter squash gnocchi (a mixture of potato and squash) tossed with a walnut-parsley pesto. That last one is a good autumn treat!

  • amy

    my husband’s family is croatian (from the dalmation coast) and his mom traditionally makes gnocchi with a red wine and beef goulash sauce every Christmas. It’s my absolute favorite dish of hers. Tired of us begging for it between Christmases, she’s taught my husband and I how to make it–which we do, at least once a month! I’ve learned how to make the goulash and my husband makes the gnocchi, using pretty much the same proportions as recommended by Clothilde. We add a bit of finely ground dried rosemary into the gnocchi and they are the perfect accompaniment to the beef goulash.

    The wisk trick is great, we will definitely try this! The forking-part is just so awkward, it’s part of the reason my husband got the job of making the gnocchi!

  • http://bitchinlifestyle.tv Dallas from Bitchin’ Kitchen

    A very approachable recipe. I have always wanted to make gnocchi but have been intimidated by the process of making potato dough. I find a lot of the recipes for it very convoluted and complicated. Yours is simple and fantastic. Thank you for your clarity :)

  • http://duodishes.com The Duo Dishes

    Gnocchi seem so hard to make…very intimidating. Maybe one day we’ll try.

  • http://saettigungsbeilage.blogspot.com Lizette

    Once my (Italian) boyfriend’s father explained me and my boyfriend how to make gnocchi. The technique to make them the right shape is: “not with the fingers, but with the whole hand. The fingers are used to regulate after.”
    Here is the cute result!

    And I like them with butter and sage. Or tomato sauce.

  • http://dishinanddishes.wordpress.com dishinanddishes

    I would like to try the potato version with a savory sauce, maybe pesto? Hubby and I made the sweet potato version with sage/butter/maple sauce. He didn’t care for the sweetness. You don’t know a good savory sauce do you? I have 2 bags in the freezer still!

  • http://gabrielaskitchen.wordpress.com gabrielaskitchen

    I really need to make some gnocchi from scratch and stop relying on the vacuum packed stuff! Thanks for the recipe it’s exactly what I need: a versatile, simple recipe.

  • Stephanie Przepiorka

    My Polish grandmother makes these (even now, at the grand old age of 84!). She serves them simply with fried pancetta and onions, perhaps with a sprinkling of home-made cheese. Fantastic!

  • http://www.areweinparisyet.blogspot.com Shelli

    My mother, Eastern European Jewish, used to make these. She called them “schkutzimlach” and finished them by frying in oil with onions. She never bothered with indentations and we never missed them.

    Might be time to try them again; I had forgotten how easy they are, and how delicious. I think I have a few sprouting potatoes in the pantry myself.

  • http://thesplitpea.blogspot.com Eralda

    I really like gnocchi, but I have always been afraid to try to make them. You make it sound so easy. So lovely!

  • Joan

    I love these with sage and butter, but also make them with sweet potatoes instead of white. I made them for a dinner party and they were a hit, but I just refrigerated the leftover dough overnight and the ones I made the next day fell apart. More flour?

  • http://www.thetomatoknife.com Joy

    For a special treat, try adding sweet potatoes. I experimented with this once and loved it. I remember using about half regular potatoes and half sweet potatoes. You’ve definitely inspired me to try making gnocchi again!

  • http://mortadifame.blogspot.com Morta Di Fame

    Will try! Love these potato clouds. There is one place I go to in the Bronx called Giantina’s that makes THE BEST gnocchi called Gnocchi Alla Jerry, in a tomato sauce and creamy mozarella … mmmmm … but I want to try to make them myself maybe in a pesto sauce. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • http://www.vagabondgourmand.com Marolyn

    Your gnocchi recipe is so straightforward, I must tackle making them soon. And thanks for the truc about freezing them in a layer to prevent a clumpy disaster!

  • kirstyn

    I’d never made gnocchi from scratch, but tried this recipe last night. It was pretty easy, really, and the gnocchi were delicious – really light and melty. I tossed them with broccoli rabe that was sauteed in olive oil and garlic. Thanks (again) for the inspiration!

  • http://www.cheapethniceatz.com/ Cheap Ethnic Eatz

    Oh I love gnocchi but rarely think to eat some. Now I have a craving! Never heard of ricotta gnocchi and speculoos gnocchi…will have to look into it.

  • http://marisblogs.wordpress.com maris

    I must make these! Gnocchi is my favorite pasta and I’ve seen so many different variations. I get it in restauants often but I’ve never made my own.

  • http://themorsel.blogspot.com Liz

    Oh thank you, thank you, thank you! I’ve been looking for a gnocchi recipe. Yours looks perfect!

  • Marty

    Thanks, Clotilde, for this recipe…I remember watching my Piemontese grandma making these some fifty years ago. However, after cutting them, she would take her index finger and slightly “curl” the piece forward, creating a cuplike bit to hold the sauce. Usually a pesto but often, too, a fresh & slightly cooked tomato sauce.

  • Wouter

    Ooh, I’m very interested in that Dauphinois too. I made a gratin yesterday with medium type potatoes using a strongly flavoured chicken stock, (400ml to 1KG of potatoes)chopped garlic, and lots of pepper. It tasted almost as unhealthy as a ‘real’ one (but isn’t). Great taste, we just finished the second half.

    Now I’m off to my beer-brewing club. It’s a hard life…

  • http://www.cookincanuck.com Cookin’ Canuck

    It sounds as though you had a great potato-fest! I love to make sweet potato gnocchi (working with the soft-as-a-cloud dough is like having a religious experience) and pairing it with a traditional brown butter-sage sauce. Mmm…

  • http://cucinadelsole.typepad.com/the_sunny_kitchen/ Nicoletta

    After seeing my video on how to make gnocchi my sister told me a nice secret to simplify mashing the potatoes: if you use a classic ricer (the one you press the potatoes with until you get nice little potato “worms”) you don’t even need to skin them. Just put them in the ricer when still hot, press and the skin will stay in the ricer while the potatoes will be perfectly mashed and fluffly. And the good old butter and sage sauce is always a match made in heaven. :)

  • http://www.taste-my-plate.blogspot.com Sarah

    I absolutely love gnocchi! My dad and I tried to make it once many many years ago and it turned out in one big mash! I think I’ve been affraid to try again ever since to avoid that dissapointment.
    YOu have inspired me however and I will definitely make the attempt again very soon.
    Thanks!

  • http://chewonthatblog.com Hillary

    My boyfriend has a weakness for gnocchi. Now I’ll have to make it for him!

  • http://thought4food.us Faith

    Gnocchi is such a perfect light summer meal…my favorite way to eat it is with a light brown butter or cream sauce and tons of fresh green herbs. You’ve definitely inspired me to make it!

  • Kristin

    My grandmother will add about 1/4 to 1/3 tsp of freshly grated nutmeg to her gnocchi. But we don’t both putting in the ridges; we just “poke” them so there’s a single indentation to hold more sauce.

    It’s funny — I’ve had homemade gnocchi for years but only boiled and served with tomato sauce. I keep meaning to try them fried and with a butter sauce but never do.

  • http://icedcupcakemelbourne.blogspot.com Hannah

    I bake my potatoes rather than boiling them – I read once that doing so reduces the moisture in the potato, needing less flour and thus producing a lighter gnocchi. I quite honestly have never tasted lighter gnocci than the ones made this way – perhaps a trial is necessary?
    The whisk idea is great, I look forward to trying it out next time!

  • http://flickr.com/photos/lisasteinbrueck Lisa

    I made these last night, topped with a few kinds of summer squash sauteed in a brown butter sauce with thyme. Lots of steps, but really easy! I was nervous — the kitchen scale’s batteries died, and I used a mix of potatoes — but it all came together beautifully. And it was DELICIOUS.

  • Lucy

    Freezing them is a good idea. Home made potato gnocchi go the most disgusting grey colour if you leave them in the fridge over night!

  • Dawn in CA

    The photo is so pretty, and the recipe looks really doable. Gnocchi are so delicious, I must try making them. Thanks!

  • http://echocorango.blogspot.com Talita

    Great pics! I love potato gnocchi!

  • http://chilicheesefries.net ChiliCheeseFry

    Nice photo. I haven’t had gnocchi in years and thanks to your post, it’s all I can think about. :)

  • http://crispyduckdiary.wordpress.com Shmii

    Hi Clotilde,
    I tried making gnocchi this past weekend and they turned out to be rock solid (possibly because of the bread flour I used instead of plain flour). I was wondering if you had any tips about how to pass the boiled potatoes through a sieve? The Locatelli recipe I followed called for the seive but I nearly broke my arm off my shoulder while doing it.
    Many thanks,
    Reshmi
    ps- i love your blog!

  • Teirrah

    Great recipe – thank you!
    I second Lucy’s point though – the gnocchi are always delicious on the first day, but discolour when kept overnight.
    Does anyone have any advice about how to stop this (aside from eating the entire batch in one sitting :))

  • http://www.simpleitaliancooking.com Liz from Simple Italian Cooking

    I will have to try this recipe, I wonder how it will work with whole wheat pastry flour?

    My husband loves gnocchi but I need to give it a more Italian flare – maybe the herbs will do this.

    Thanks for the blog!

  • http://www.planetsafeplanners.com Stacey D’Amico

    Thanks for posting this recipe. I have been dying to try making gnocchi. My grandmother used to make this for me when I was a child. This is the ultimate comfort food!

  • Mike

    The potato gnocchi recipe sounds great.I think i’m going to try to suprise my wife with it.She always talks about her grandmothers gnocchi and how much she enjoyed it.She would flip if I made it for her.I’ll let you know how it goes.

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