Homemade Gnocchi and Pesto

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I did it! I finally, successfully made gnocchi! If any of you are following my blog or watched our Reci-Tweets LIVE event last month (when I officially launched my blog), you may know that I attempted to make gnocchi and failed miserably. 

In fact, my gnocchi ended up more like mashed potatoes and was only salvaged by leftover pancake mix...

It wasn't great.  

However, from this failure, I learnt a few things! Don't overcook the potatoes and try not to overwork the dough because it makes the gnocchi dense. If you fail the first time, don't give up. The second time I made these they turned out AMAZING. Oh and make sure to use older russet potatoes, although others work, they are the perfect kind for gnocchi. 

 

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Reducing moisture is essential, so always bake your potatoes instead of steaming or boiling them,  and puncture them with holes so steam can escape during baking. I heard that real Italians don't use egg when they make gnocchi, but then I also heard that you shouldn't even attempt to make egg-less gnocchi until you have mastered gnocchi with egg. Egg acts as a binder and stops your gnocchi from falling apart and laughing in your face. I would definitely say go for this user-friendly version and see how you get on!

I have also heard of people using one sweet potato to every russet potato for added flavor. I will definitely try that next time and let you know what I think!

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Home-made Gnocchi (2-3 servings)

  • 1 1/2 cups (187g) all-purpose flour, or as needed
  • 3 large russet potatoes  
  • 1 tbsp. salt
  • 1 egg

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F(200 C).
  2. Pierce the potatoes with a fork all over to vent moisture and then bake (skin on) in the oven for 45 minutes. Turn halfway through cooking. Don't cook any longer than an hour or else you will end up with mashed potatoes. 
  3. Once the potatoes are tender, leave to cool for 10 minutes and whilst they are still warm, peel and rice them. If you have a food ricer use that! Otherwise you can do what I did and put the potatoes through a cheese grater instead. Mash out any remaining lumps with a fork.
  4. Bring the potato together into a mound and add the egg, salt and whatever other seasonings you want. Mix thoroughly.  
  5. Sift the flour in slowly, stirring as you go, leaving a 1/4 cup or so for the board. Bring it all together to form a dough and then transfer onto the floured board. Knead for about 5 minutes, adding a tiny bit of flour if necessary. Work quickly! It is important to use *just* the minimum amount of flour and not to overwork the dough. The dough should be smooth, soft, and not sticky. 
  6. When the dough is the right consistency, divide the dough into 4 balls and roll each ball into a long strip about 1/2 thick. Cut the strip into little bite-sized pieces and set aside on a tray lined with parchment or waxed paper. Try not to let the gnocchi pieces touch or they will find some way to stick together. Some people like to use the tines of a fork at this stage to make the little gnocchi ridges you often see indented on the surface. I like to just use my finger and make a slight dip in the center of each gnocchi piece so they resemble cushiony pillows! Repeat this process for the remaining dough. 
  7. Now you are ready to cook them! If you are saving these for later they will keep fine in the fridge for a couple of hours or you can freeze them if you're cooking them the next day (in which case, freeze them on a lined tray before transferring to a freezer bag later on). To cook, drop them in batches into a pan full of boiling water, trying not to overcrowd the pan. They will sink to the bottom and after a few minutes you will see them float to the top. As soon as they start to float, remove with a slotted spoon. Put them in a bowl with a little olive oil to prevent sticking. 
  8. At this point you can eat them freshly boiled, or you can fry them in a pan for a few minutes for an extra nice texture, before tossing them together with the pesto sauce below. 

 

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Pesto Sauce

  • 2 large handfuls of basil (approximately 2 cups packed)
  • 1/3 cup (45g) pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup (56g) freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano or Romano cheese
  • 2/3 cup (160ml) olive oil
  • 1 tsp. crushed garlic (2-3 cloves)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  1. The trick to making great pesto is to keep from over-processing it. That's why I start by hand chopping the basil and nuts (chopping nuts is optional) before throwing it in the food processor with half the oil and crushed garlic. I pulse these ingredients for only a couple of seconds. 
  2. Once done, transfer to a bowl and mix in the cheese, remaining oil and salt and pepper. Your pesto is ready to be mixed with your gnocchi! Pesto can also be frozen in an airtight container for several months. 

 

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