Gnocchi

Gnocchi is easier to make than you might think: you just need some basic ingredients, a few tricks, and time. Get gnocchi recipes at TwiceasTasty.com.
Italy ruined gnocchi for me, much in the way Morocco ruined couscous: After tasting the real thing, I’m no longer impressed with the convenience-food versions that dominate in America. Although potato dumplings and steamed semolina seem vastly different, they have a surprising number of things in common. Both have reputations as difficult yet delicious delicacies. This has led companies to manufacture replacements you can grab off a shelf in a box. Neither vacuum-packed gnocchi nor instant couscous comes close to its freshly made counterpart.

Fortunately, both are easier to make from scratch than you might think. They take time, and some special tools help give the best results, but you really only need some basic ingredients and a few tricks to create the real deal.

I had several trials and failures before I started making decent gnocchi. By using these tips and following my recipes, you may avoid my mistakes:

  • Potatoes: The drier your potatoes, the lighter your gnocchi. Most recipes recommend russet or Idaho baking potatoes. I don’t grow either variety; instead, I grow juicier, thinner-skinned yellows, whites, reds, and purples. By baking instead of boiling and preparing the gnocchi in stages so that the potatoes can sit and dry out, I’ve found I can use my homegrown potatoes.
  • Eggs: Egg yolks are primarily fats and protein. Egg whites are mostly water. By using just the yolks, you avoid returning moisture to the potatoes. Farm-fresh eggs have brighter yolks, thanks to their bonus carotenoids, that will give your gnocchi a golden glow. Use the leftover egg whites for Gingerbread Pancakes, Sweet and Spicy Nuts, or Sourdough Calzones.
  • Flour: The less flour you use, and the less you work it, the lighter your potato dumplings. Too much flour makes gnocchi doughy. Kneading and overworking the dough builds up gluten, making the pasta chewy and dense.
  • Ricer: I started making better gnocchi after I bought a ricer. This kitchen tool breaks down potatoes without breaking apart their cells and distributing their starch. A ricer isn’t expensive, but it’s awkwardly shaped and takes up space in my tiny kitchen. If you don’t already own one, you can press the potatoes through a fine-mesh sieve. After a few sessions, you’ll think about getting a ricer and putting it to other uses: ricing cauliflower for a low-carb stir-fry, wringing out cooked greens, or smoothing out guacamole or roasted pumpkin (see below).
  • Sauté pan: Tradition says you should boil gnocchi. But a chef friend who owns a local restaurant that makes fabulous gnocchi recently advised me to skip that step and drop the dumplings straight into a skillet. I compared both techniques and happily pass on his advice: My boiled gnocchi got puffy but also gummy, whereas the pan-fried gnocchi was slightly crisp on the outside and soft and light in the center.
  • Patience: The most important element when making gnocchi is patience. Good gnocchi takes time. Like making bread, it may take less hands-on time than you would expect; the bulk of your effort will go into hand-rolling the dumplings. But by building rest periods into the process, you’ll get the best results.

Ready to give it a try? Full details are in the recipe below, but here are the basics:
You just need potatoes, egg, and flour, plus a little oil for sautéing.
1. Bake your potatoes.
2. Peel and rice the potatoes before letting them sit to dry out.
3. Cut the egg and flour into the potatoes to form a dough.
4. Shape the dough and let rest.
5. Sauté the gnocchi and enjoy.

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Homemade Potato Gnocchi

  • Servings: 4–6
  • Difficulty: 4
  • Print
3 pounds potatoes
2 egg yolks
freshly ground white or black pepper to taste (optional)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
olive oil for sautéing

Place a large baking stone on the center rack of the oven or, if you don’t have one, cover the lowest rack with a piece of aluminum foil; preheat the oven to 375°F. Scrub and prick each potato with a fork, and then place them carefully on the baking stone or a bare center rack. Bake for 90 minutes, until they are easily pierced with a fork; start checking small potatoes at 60 minutes and allow more time for oversized ones as needed.

Remove the potatoes from the oven. When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, use your fingers or a paring knife to remove the peels. Break the potato flesh into chunks with your fingers, spreading them on a rimmed baking sheet as you work to release moisture as they cool.

Force the potato chunks through a ricer or fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl set on a scale. Stop when you have 30 ounces of riced potato; any remaining potato can be riced or mashed for another use. Spread the riced potatoes on the baking sheet, cover it with a tea towel, and let it sit for 6–24 hours in the fridge.

Mound the riced potatoes on a clean work surface, flattening them slightly. Lightly beat the egg yolks, and then drizzle them over the potatoes. Grind on pepper, if desired. Using a dough scraper or spatula, cut into the potato mound ever inch or so, from side to side and top to bottom, to incorporate the egg. Sprinkle with a handful of flour, gently fold and remound the potato, and then cut it again; keep sprinkling, folding, and cutting until the dough stops being sticky and a small amount can be shaped into a ball. Push the dough mound aside and scrape any sticky bits from the work surface; flour the cleaned surface. Line 2 clean rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.

Push the dough mound to the center of the work space, and then shape it into a low, long, narrow loaf. Use the dough scraper or a knife to cut the loaf into slices. Gently roll and stretch each slice into a rope about 1/2 inch thick. Cut each rope into 1-inch pieces. Smooth the ends of each piece with your fingertips, and then gently roll the tines of a fork across the dumpling. Set the finished gnocchi on the paper-lined baking sheets. Cover with a tea towel and return to the fridge for up to 24 hours.

When ready to eat, coat a large, heavy skillet with oil and set over medium heat. Place enough gnocchi in the hot pan so that it is full but the pieces don’t touch. Cook for 2–4 minutes, flip each dumpling, and cook an additional 2 minutes, until the gnocchi start to brown and are cooked through. Transfer the finished gnocchi to a paper-lined tray set in a warm oven. Repeat the process with the remaining gnocchi. Serve immediately. Serves 4–6.

Tips & Tricks
  • The techniques I mentioned earlier in this post will help keep your gnocchi light. Think of the process as more like making pastry than pasta. Letting it rest and dry out between stages helps, as do baking and sautéing instead of boiling. Instead of trying to speed up this process, make Homemade Pumpkin Gnocchi for a quicker fix.
  • Using a baking stone helps the heat penetrate the potatoes, but you can also bake them directly on a rack. A foil-covered rack below reflects heat and catches any drips.
  • My large baking stone holds about 6 pounds of potatoes, so I usually make a double batch of gnocchi and spread the riced potatoes on two large trays. They will be easier to turn into dough if you work one tray at a time.
  • Homemade gnocchi freezes well. After shaping, cover the tray and pop it into the freezer for at least 2 hours. When the gnocchi is completely frozen, transfer it to freezer-proof zip-close bags and return it to the freezer. Add it frozen to the sauté pan when you’re ready to make your meal, letting it cook a couple of extra minutes.
  • Many sauces work with gnocchi, including Red Bell Pepper Puree, Basil Pesto Base, and the filling I use for Mushroom-Stuffed Blini. My favorite is even simpler: brown butter and sage (see below) and a sprinkling of freshly grated cheese.


Gnocchi is easier to make than you might think: you just need some basic ingredients, a few tricks, and time. Get gnocchi recipes at TwiceasTasty.com.

Twice as Tasty

Once I mastered the dry dough needed for potato gnocchi, I went back to some of my other early gnocchi recipes and began to wonder if I could make those better too. I had my doubts when I pulled out my favorite pumpkin gnocchi recipe: Could I shape water-heavy squash into light, fluffy gnocchi without just creating a sticky mess? The answer is yes, using the same tricks that make potato gnocchi work: remove as much water as possible, stick to egg yolks, barely work in a minimal amount of flour, and sauté.

Gnocchi is easier to make than you might think: you just need some basic ingredients, a few tricks, and time. Get gnocchi recipes at TwiceasTasty.com.One advantage of pumpkin gnocchi is that you won’t end up with drier dumplings or dough by letting it sit overnight. While you could skip those steps with potato gnocchi and still impress dinner guests, pumpkin gnocchi wants to be cooked straight away. The secret to making speedy pumpkin gnocchi is to roast your squash in advance, draining as much liquid as you can from the puree so that it’s ready to cut and roll.

Ready to give it a try? Full details are in the recipe below, but here are the basics:
You just need pumpkin, cheese, egg, and flour, plus a couple of spices.
1. Mix the dough.
2. Fold in the flour and seasonings.
3. Shape the dough.
4. Sauté the gnocchi and enjoy.

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Homemade Pumpkin Gnocchi

  • Servings: 4–6
  • Difficulty: 3
  • Print
1-1/3 cups Roasted Pumpkin Puree
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
1 cup all-purpose flour
olive oil for sautéing

Scrape the pumpkin puree into a fine-mesh strainer set over a bowl and allow it to drain for at least 30 minutes to remove as much liquid as possible. Mix in 1/2 cup of cheese and the beaten egg yolks.

Mound the flour on a work surface; sprinkle with spices and mix with a fork until combined. Remound the flour and make a well in its center. Scrape the pumpkin mixture into the well. Use your hands to gently incorporate the loose flour, slowly folding it into the pumpkin. Stop when you can shape the soft dough into a loaf but the exterior is still coated in flour.

Shape and cook the pasta as you would Homemade Potato Gnocchi, forming a loaf, slicing it into sections, and making 1/2-inch-thick ropes; pat and shape rather than trying to roll the dough, and coat your fingers with flour as needed to prevent sticking. Cut each rope into 1-inch pieces, and then gently shape the corners. Sauté a single-layer batch at a time in a large skillet over medium heat for 4–6 minutes, flipping partway through. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese and serve. Serves 4–6.

Tips & Tricks
  • If you don’t have home-roasted pumpkin puree stashed in your freezer, you can roast a fresh pumpkin or other winter squash; I often make this recipe with Delicata squash. A 3-pound squash should give you enough puree for 1 batch of gnocchi.
  • Even if you drained your squash puree before freezing, it will release a lot of liquid once defrosted. The more you can drain away, the lighter your gnocchi will be.
  • A light hand also makes for light gnocchi. Work the dough as little as possible, and don’t incorporate all of the flour if you can shape a small amount into a ball. Let the exterior of the gnocchi stay dusted with flour all the way into the pan.
  • Winter squash gnocchi freezes on trays as well as the potato version. Put it straight into the pan without defrosting; it will cook almost as quickly as freshly made dumplings.
  • Sage butter goes well with both potato and pumpkin. Simply heat the butter for a few minutes in a skillet, swirling constantly, until it’s golden and nutty. Add a splash of white wine or squeeze of lemon, throw in some fresh or dried sage leaves or blossoms, and then drizzle over the gnocchi.


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