The Italian Dumpling- Gnocchi

These potato dumplings, traditionally served as a first course, are small bites of heaven.   Although most people associate this dish with Italian cuisine, versions of this dish exist around the world; Croatia, France, and South America all have variations of the dish. The word “gnocchi” is derived from the Italian word “nocchio,” meaning a “knot in wood.” Most Italian chefs say that the secret behind perfect gnocchi is the right potato. The best are ones high in starch and low in water content, such as the russet potato. The less water in the dough, the less gummy it will be.  It is said that the gnocchi is perhaps one of the oldest recorded dishes that can be found, and when you actually try them there is no wonder why they have survived for so long. These delightful Italian little dumplings are and absolutely fantastic dish, and they can be found in several variations. As with many Italian dishes, region can play a large role in the type of gnocchi you can find. Each version tenderly preserved through time with a recipe that can easily stem back to the early 1300th century Tuscans. This is a very simple recipe to make, and while it is easy you can find many that will put a twist on this recipe to make it their own.  The Gnocchi is a recipe that is very old, and apparently it does have quite the clan. There are more Gnocchi variations than you can shake a stick at, and all of which are dependant on where you are in Italy. I am introducing you to a southern Italian variety from Naples made with potatoes and another variety popular in Florence, Italy  made with ricotta cheese and spinach   These dumplings in their early stages are often confused with pasta, but truth be
told they are actually even older than pasta itself. The similarities are not reserved for the appearance either, as the dressings for the two dishes are quite similar as well. It is clear however to those that are experienced that Gnocchi and pasta are not the same dish. Someone unfamiliar with the ways in Italy or the general foods can easily become confused and assume that they are in fact one and the same.

The Most Famous Of All – The Potato Gnocchi

Easily the most delightful and famous of all Gnocchi dishes is the Potato Gnocchi  served with an authentic southern Italian marinara sauce like our very own 825 MAIN Marinara Sauce. In Naples we like to serve our Gnocchi with chunks of fresh mozzarella cheese and lots of marinara sauce.

From Naples, Italy Gnocchi
Serves: 12 servings of gnocchi

Ingredients:

  • 3 pounds russet potatoes
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg extra large
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1/2 cup olive  oil
  • 2 jars of 825 MAIN Marinara

Directions:

Boil the whole potatoes until they are soft (about 45 minutes). While still warm, peel and
pass through vegetable mill  or mash onto clean pasta board.

Set 6 quarts of water to boil in a large spaghetti pot. Set up ice bath with 6 cups ice and 6 cups water near boiling water.

Make well in center of potatoes and sprinkle all over with flour, using all the flour. Place egg and salt in center of well and using a fork, stir into flour and potatoes, just like making normal pasta. Once egg is mixed in, bring dough together, kneading gently until a ball is formed. Knead gently another 4 minutes until ball is dry to touch.

Roll baseball-sized ball of dough into 3/4-inch diameter dowels and cut dowels into
1-inch long pieces. To make decorative gnocchi flick pieces off of fork or concave side of cheese grater until dowel is finished. Drop these pieces into boiling water and cook until they float (about 1 minute). Meanwhile, continue with remaining dough, forming dowels, cutting into 1-inch pieces and flicking off of fork. As gnocchi float to top of boiling water, remove them to ice bath. Continue until all have been cooled off. Let sit several minutes in bath and drain from ice and water. Toss with 1/2 cup olive oil and store covered in refrigerator up to 48 hours until ready to serve. And serve with 825 MAIN Marinara Sauce.

 From Florence, Italy –  Gnudi – Spinach Ricotta Gnocchi

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1 pound frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus 1 cup for coating
  • Jar of 825 MAIN Marinara

Directions:

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

In a large bowl, mix ricotta, spinach, Parmesan cheese, eggs, and yolks. Stir in
nutmeg, salt, pepper, and flour. Form mixture in to small, flattened balls.

Dredge the formed gnudi in flour to coat, tapping off the excess. Slide formed gnudi into the boiling water. Be careful not to overcrowd the pan; work in batches if necessary. Remove the gnudi using a slotted spoon after they float to the top nd have cooked for about 4 minutes.

Arrange gnudi on a platter and lightly drizzle with  825 MAIN Marinara sauce.