I was lucky enough to visit Italy a few years ago. During the (very) short periods of time when I wasn’t stuffing my face with incredibly delicious Italian breads, pastas, pizzas and desserts, I would sit and watch the locals talk with one another.
Like artists, molding words from the air, many Italians speak with their hands, to emphasize their expressions and emotions. I like to think that when I cook Italian food, I do the same. And when I want to say “homemade and comfort and delicious,” I go for homemade gnocchi every time.
Almost every region in Italy has its own variation of gnocchi (pronounced nyow-kee). This recipe is a light and tender version made from potatoes. I serve it in a butter sage sauce that highlights the delicate nature of the dumplings and uses fresh, earthy flavors to remind us that we have entered into fall.
Drum sieve or potato ricer
Mesh sieve to sift flour
Dough blender (optional)
Gnocchi board (optional, although you may want to buy one of these after you make the dish over and over!)
Large pot or wide shallow pan
Medium sauce pan
Ingredients for gnocchi:
3 pounds floury potatoes (I use russets)
3 egg yolks, lightly beaten
¾ cup Type OO flour or all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
1 stick unsalted butter
Fresh sage leaves, about 10 leaves or more for a stronger flavor
1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Clean your potatoes with a brush or by hand. Put potatoes on a baking tray and bake for 30 to 40 minutes until completely cooked through.
2. Wearing oven mitts or protective gloves, cut your very hot potatoes in half and scoop out the insides, throwing away the outer skin. Push the potato through your drum sieve or potato ricer into a large bowl.
3. Take your egg yolks and slowly drizzle them over the potatoes. Take half of your flour and, using your mesh sieve, gently shake so that it covers the mixture. Add a pinch of salt. Then, using your hands or a dough blender, fold everything in so it becomes a dough. Turn out the contents of the bowl onto a work surface and press it into a ball.
4. Sprinkle the remaining flour over the ball and continue to fold the dough and press down, less like kneading bread dough and more like folding a package.
5. Take a quarter of your dough and roll it into a dough sausage about a half-inch thick. Cut dough into 1-inch pieces of gnocchi. Roll each piece on a gnocchi board, or along the back of a fork, to create the traditional gnocchi pasta pattern. Transfer cut gnocchi to a lightly floured baking tray. Repeat until all your dough has been cut.
6. Take your pot or pan, fill with water, generously salt and bring to a boil.
7. Now the sauce! Melt your butter in a medium sauce pan at medium to medium-high heat. When it just starts to bubble, add your sage and allow to cook just until the butter begins to turn light brown, then quickly remove sauce from heat.
8. When the water is boiling, gently roll your gnocchi into the water and cook for two to three minutes or until they float to the surface. Remove with a slotted spoon.
9. Add gnocchi to your sauce and gently coat until well combined. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve in individual bowls with grated Parmesan.