Let’s just say I can get a little obsessive when it comes to finding the perfect recipe. I love finding (or creating) that trusty recipe that I can go back to time after time, knowing it’ll yield delicious results consistently.
Now that we’ve laid that out on the table, it shouldn’t be too surprising to know that I’ve made potato gnocchi no less than 3 times in 3 weeks. My freezer is stocked with different batches – one batch with no egg, another batch with Yukon Gold potatoes… It wasn’t until last weekend that I finally nailed the recipe for potato gnocchi with a pesto sauce. And guess what? The recipes aren’t mine. (More on that at the end of this post…)
After trying a few different gnocchi and pesto recipes, I arrived at possibly the most perfect combination:
Potato Gnocchi by America’s Test Kitchen
America’s Test Kitchen (ATK) continues to churn out incredibly consistent recipes. If my life counted on making one meal perfectly, it would be based on recipes from ATK. It’s clear that they invest the time to test recipes with the everyday home cook in mind. I love a few things about their recipe for potato gnocchi:
- You save at least 45 minutes by microwaving the potatoes first before baking them in the oven.
- You only need 4 ingredients: Russet potatoes, flour, salt, and an egg.
- The recipe advises you to weigh the potatoes after ricing them. This ensures you don’t add too much flour.
This gnocchi actually turns out light and fluffy, because of the steps to release steam from the potatoes and weigh the potatoes to ensure just the right amount of flour is added. Using too much flour makes the gnocchi’s texture really gummy. I ran into that issue with recipes that didn’t call for an egg, and just relied on flour.
Pesto Sauce by Marcella Hazan
Marcella Hazan, the late queen of Italian-American cooking has the best pesto recipe I have ever tried. It’s published in her classic cookbook from 1992 – Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. It’s truly simple fare. The ingredients include fresh basil, garlic, olive oil, Pecorino and Parmigiano cheeses, pine nuts, salt and butter. That’s right, BUTTER. Most pestos I’ve made only use olive oil, but the butter in Hazan’s recipe really adds a creamier dimension and is totally worth it in my opinion.
Tips for the Perfect Gnocchi
Get a potato ricer, stat! Honestly, don’t even bother making potato gnocchi if you don’t have a ricer. It will make your life SO much easier and I seriously don’t think there’s any other way to achieve the airy consistency. I own the OXO Good Grips Potato Ricer and it works really well.
Peel and rice quickly. The trick to really light and fluffy gnocchi is to peel and rice the baked potatoes while they’re still hot. You want to release as much steam as possible, otherwise you’ll have to add more flour to combat the moisture. This can lead to a gummy texture and bland flavor.
Weigh the riced potatoes. Potato gnocchi dough comes together fairly easily, especially when you use an egg, which helps the potato and flour bind together. You want to avoid adding too much flour, and ATK’s recipe solves for this by having you weigh out exactly 16 ounces of the riced potatoes before adding the flour.
Form gnocchi using a fork. There are gnocchi boards you can buy to add those ridges, or you can save a few dollars and just use the back of a fork. Gently roll the cut gnocchi pieces down the fork tines, pinching the bottoms to form the crease that traps the sauce. If the dough starts to stick to the fork, just lightly flour the tines. Check out America’s Test Kitchen’s video on their recipe page for a great demo.
Freeze ahead! If you don’t want to cook all of the gnocchi at once, you can freeze the gnocchi on a cookie sheet after you’ve formed them. Once frozen, store in an airtight bag or container. Anytime you want gnocchi, just take them out of the freezer and drop them in boiling water – no defrosting needed.
Hand-stir the cheeses. Most recipes have you add the cheese to the basil and blend in the food processor, but I like Marcella’s technique of adding the cheeses by hand. The strands of grated Pecorino and Parmigiano cheeses coat the gnocchi, so you get a salty, rich flavor with every bite.
Cook quickly and watch. Cooking the gnocchi is super fast and easy. Just drop the gnocchi into a large pot of boiling water (turn down so it’s at a very gentle boil, not rolling). In about 60 seconds, the gnocchi should float to the top. Give it about 30 second longer, then remove with a slotted spoon and let rest on a paper towel lined plate. Then, coat it with your favorite sauce in a skillet and enjoy!
Have you made gnocchi from scratch? Leave your tips or questions in the comments!
Blogger’s Note: Featuring the Recipes of Others
When I started The Simple Fare, I always thought of this blog as a place for me to share the best recipes I’ve stumbled upon, either in my own brain or through trial and error of existing recipes out there. My favorite recipes combine quality ingredients with simple, scratch cooking techniques. And let’s face it, there’s no shortage of great recipes out there. While I could change a few ingredients and tweak some directions in a recipe, the adaptation would be for the pure sake of calling a recipe my own. I prefer a more organic approach to creating recipes and will continue in that direction. In the meantime, I think there’s definitely value in testing existing recipes and helping promote the best. Note that I won’t post the actual recipes on my blog since I didn’t create them. But, I’ll share links to the recipes and provide commentary, photos, tips and more in my blog posts.