Thursday, 2 May 2013

Italian classic at home...

We don't really watch a lot of TV here (mainly because there seems to be so much rubbish on these days) but I do love cookery shows.  No surprise there, really.  I watched "Masterchef" the other day (it's a cookery competition show rather than one with recipes) and was intrigued to see them make Italian gnocchi.

Gnocchi with a chorizo tomato sauce...
Now, to be perfectly honest, I have only ever had supermarket gnocchi and they have been pretty average at best.  Either very chewy or very  hard...brrrr!  Knowing how Italians love their food, I reckoned there must be more to these little potato dumplings and they did look delicious on TV.  So, poor Mr Happy Larder had to be guinea pig to yet another new recipe - luckily, we were both pleasantly surprised.

I was a bit unsure what the texture the "dough" should be like but since it needed rolling into a sausage shape before cutting, I guessed it shouldn't be too soft.  I needed more flour than the original recipe stated but apart from that it was straightforward.  The great thing is that you can freeze gnocchi - simply put on a lined baking sheet in the freezer overnight and pop into a freezer container/bag the following morning.  When ready to use, there is no need to defrost - just put into boiling water and when they rise to the surface, they are done.  Self-timing dumplings - perfect :-)  We had one batch "fresh" with another in the freezer and I will definitely be making these again.  The recipe is below as well as a link to a video that shows the method and a little trick I picked up from "Masterchef".

Italian Gnocchi (serves 4)

1kg potatoes in their skin (use a floury potato or baking potatoes)
1 large egg
300g plain flour (added in stages, according to how sticky the dough is)
salt to taste
polenta or maize flour for dusting

To serve: a creamy or tomato pasta sauce, some grated cheese for sprinkling on top

Have a look at this YouTube video I found which explans the method rather well.


Bring some water to the boil in a large saucepan, add the unpeeled whole potatoes and boil until cooked through - 30 minutes to 1 hour depending on the size of your potatoes (the skin keeps the potatoes from absorbing any water).

Drain the potatoes and peel the skin off while they're still hot - use a tea towel or fork to help hold them.

Mash the potatoes straight away while hot, then season with salt. Try to make your potatoes as smooth as possible.

Add 1 egg and some plain flour to the mash - keep adding the flour and mix to form a malleable dough. Taste the dough and add more salt if necessary. .
Bring a saucepan of salted water to the boil.

Dust your work surface with flour and roll your dough ball into a long sausage shape (you might need to do several smaller ones) - the thinner/smaller the better. Take a knife and cut the dough into small pieces of approx. 1cm. 

Dust a couple of large baking trays with polenta/maize flour and place your finished gnocchi onto them (using polenta/maize stops them from sticking together - they'd just "absorb" flour if you used it instead).  At this stage you can put them in the freezer overnight or continue to cook now.

Place in batches in the boiling water and cook for 1 - 2 minutes...the gnocchi will rise to the surface when done (very handy :-)).  Remove with a slotted spoon.

Tip from "Masterchef":  to stop the gnocchi from cooking after you have removed them from the boiling water, simply drop into a bowl of iced water to "shock" them.

Add the cooked gnocchi to a pasta sauce (tomato, cream - whatever you fancy) and coat liberally whilst heating through.

OPTIONAL:  To make colourful gnocchi, simply add 2tsp tomato puree (if you want to make some red ones) or 50g of finely chopped cooked spinach or rocket salad (for green ones).  Simply split the dough into 3 bowls, add the tomato purée to one of the potato mixtures and the finely chopped rocket into another batch of dough and knead through till it's evenly distributed. Leave the final batch plain.  Proceed as above with the shaping, cooking or freezing.

(recipe adapted from Channel 4's Simply Italian)


  1. I have been wondering the same thing....I agree the gnocchi I have tried left me unimpressed. Curious about the effort and outcome of making my own. Thank you for letting us know it was worth it.

    1. I'm glad I am not the only one who hasn't been wowed by gnocchi in the past - fingers crossed you'll like these! You could always make a half batch to see how you enjoy them. Kirsten x

  2. My Grandma used to make gnocchi. I haven't had it for a long time. It is not to bad with olive oil or butter and lots of cheese either. Yours looks great.

    1. I bet your grandma's were lovely! I did think they'd work well with good olive oil and grated parmesan (or other) cheese. Next time... ;-) Kirsten x

  3. I make potato gnocchi too using a very similar recipe. Although I don't make it too often because it's fiddly...but the results are yummy especially with a homemade spaghetti sauce slathered on top :-)

    1. They are great, aren't they? I love that they can be frozen, so that way you only have to make a big batch once in a while. Kirsten x

  4. I've not been very impressed by shop bought gnocchi either, but have made them before and decided homemade were much nicer :-)
    In fact, I was thinking about them this morning as my son asked if I could make nettle gnocchi again- must get the children picking over the weekend!

    1. Oh, nettle gnocchi sound great - I must try those. I made some of mine with spinach and some with tomato puree - they were both pretty and tasty - but I bet the nettle ones are delicious. Thanks for the idea! Have a lovely weekend! Kirsten x