I personally believe that gnocchi is one of the most misunderstood Italian dishes. Unfortunately many folks have their first gnocchi experience trying out manufactured gnocchi, either fresh or frozen, finding them gummy or doughy, and are left wondering what all the fuss is about. A well prepared homemade gnocchi is a truly wonderful thing, and in fact gnocchi are one of my personal favorite Italian dishes. A well made gnocchi should be delicate enough to be described as tender, yet sturdy enough to hold it’s own when combined with sauce. Gnocchi are basically dumplings, and can be made with almost any ingredients that can be formed into a dough. Check out my Step by Step Instructions for Potato Gnocchi.
Gnocchi, (pronounced NYOK-ee) are made in most regions in Italy, although they are generally made with different ingredients in each region. For example, on the island of Sardinia, you can find tiny saffron flavored potato gnocchi, while in the Alto Adige in the mountains up near Austria; they are often made with breadcrumbs. In other regions you can find gnocchi made with everything from semolina, spinach, ricotta, chestnut flour, squash, buckwheat flour or most commonly, potatoes. These potto gnocchi can also be flavored with anything from beets, carrots, water squash, saffron or herbs. Some gnocchi are round while others are oval and grooved to hold the sauce. If you have never experienced a really good dish of gnocchi, you have missed a special treat. Luckily gnocchi can easily be made at home and are in fact quicker to make than homemade pasta.
I was craving gnocchi recently, and when I’m in a “gnocchi mood” I usually make ricotta gnocchi simply because they are so easy. I wanted something a little different though, so I decided to make potato and carrot gnocchi which I thought would be really pretty for Easter. These gnocchi turned out really well, and the carrots added a subtle sweetness that was lovely. The gnocchi were tender and light, and I served them simply with a little browned butter sauce, grated Parmesan cheese, and a good sprinkling of fresh cracked pepper. I like to bake my potatoes when I make gnocchi, which keeps the moisture level low allowing you to use less flour which creates a lighter gnocchi. I also placed the carrots in a sieve after I pureed them to remove as much liquid as possible.
Deborah Mele 2011
Carrot & Potato Gnocchi
Carrots add a subtle sweetness to these little pillows of dough.
- 2 Pounds Baking Potatoes
- 4 Medium Carrots, Peeled, Trimmed & Cut Into Pieces
- 2 Large Egg Yolks
- 1/2 Cup All-purpose Flour Plus Additional Flour For Rolling
- 5 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
- Fresh Grated Parmesan Cheese
- Cracked Black Pepper
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Prick the potatoes with a knife, and place on a baking sheet.
- Bake in the oven until fork tender, about 60 minutes.
- While the potatoes are baking, place the carrots in a saucepan and just cover with water.
- Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and cook the carrots until they are tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.
- Drain the carrots, puree them in a food processor until smooth, then place the pulp in a sieve over a bowl to drain out any excess liquid.
- Once the potatoes are cooked, cool just until they are not too hot to handle, then cut in half.
- Scoop out the pulp, then use a ricer, collecting two full cups of riced potatoes.
- In a bowl, place the two cups of potatoes, 1/2 cup of the drained carrot puree, the two egg yolks, and some salt.
- Mix with your fingers, then add the flour and stir just until a dough forms.
- Dump the dough onto a lightly floured surface, and cut into 4 pieces.
- Line a baking sheet with foil and lightly dust with flour.
- Take a piece of the dough and using your hands roll into a 3/4 of an inch rope. dusting with flour to prevent sticking.
- Use a sharp knife to cut the rope into 3/4 of an inch pieces and place on the floured baking sheet.
- If desired, at this time you can roll each piece of dough against the tines of a fork to create ridges.
- Once all the dough has been rolled and cut, store the tray in the refrigerator until ready to use.
- Heat a large pot of salted water to a boil.
- While the water is heating, place the butter in a small saucepan and melt.
- Continue to cook the butter until it is just light golden brown.
- Cook the gnocchi just until they rise to the surface, then drain.
- Return the gnocchi to the pot, pour the browned butter on top and carefully toss to coat.
- Serve the gnocchi into four individual bowls topped with grated Parmesan cheese and cracked black pepper.