Making homemade pasta sounds daunting; but in reality it is very easy. It takes some time and patience, so perhaps not something you do on a Tuesday. But for me, it is a nostalgic experience that brings me back to my Nonna’s kitchen table, where I assisted the culinary master in creating something mouth-wateringly delicious.
Gnocchi’s origin comes from the Italian word nocca, meaning knuckle, and when you look at these little pillows of softness, they have the imprint on them to resemble a knuckle. They are made with potatoes, taking their difficulty level a tad more elevated than traditional pasta; but I promise, they are worth it. Those store bought frozen gnocchi you buy at your local grocery store, do not do justice to what gnocchi are supposed to taste like.
Ingredients for the Gnocchi
3 Large Baking Potatoes
2 Large Eggs
3 Cups of Tipo 00 Flour (Believe me its worth it)
1 TSP of Salt
**This will make enough gnocchi for 6 people. You can freeze what you don’t eat**
Ingredients for the Sauce
1 cup of dry white wine (Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc)
½ cup of butter
150 grams of Pancetta
3 Portobello Mushrooms
1 cup of peas (fresh or frozen- I like the PC Organic Frozen Peas)
1 cup of Parmesan Cheese
2-3 sprigs of thyme
½ tsp of salt
1 tsp of pepper
Directions for the Gnocchi:
1.Place the whole unpeeled potatoes in a large pot and cover in water. Set on high and boil for about 1 hour or until soft.
2. Remove potatoes from the water carefully (they will want to break apart). Carefully peel them, they will be hot, but you should be able to do this with your fingers (if you are like me and have lost most feeling in them) or use two forks.
3. Place in a large bowl and use a hand mixer or a potato ricer to make a smooth consistency. This is very important; you should have no lumps in the potatoes. Let them cool for about 20 minutes.
4. Add the 2 eggs, salt and 3 cups of flour to the potatoes and begin mixing. I used my hands, and usually do this directly on my counter top. Use your palm to knead the dough until it is smooth.
5. Divide the dough into 4 inch by 2 inch pieces.
6. Put some flour on your counter top and begin working with your first piece of dough, coat it in flour and then roll it out like a snake approximately half an inch thick (you know what I mean by this- think of all those play dough snakes you made as a child).
7. Cut ½ inch pieces from your dough snake. Then take a fork, coat it in flour and on the freshly cut edge of your gnocchi, and press down lightly to create a light indentation and rounder shape (the knuckle).
8. Repeat steps 6 & 7 until you are out of dough.
9. Place the gnocchi on a large dishtowel and let them air dry for an hour or so. Make sure they are not touching.
10. To cook, bring a large pot of well-salted water to boil, and drop the gnocchi into the boiling water. The gnocchi will tell you when they are ready by floating to the top. Remove them with a slated spoon and add to your favourite sauce.
Directions for White Wine and Butter Sauce:
1. Finely chop the onion. Cut the pancetta into small pieces. Cut up the Portobello mushrooms.
2. In a frying pan, add the pancetta and cook on medium heat to render fat and make crispy morsels of greatness (can you tell I like pancetta?).
3. Remove the pancetta but leave the fat. Add your onion, salt and pepper and begin sautéing. When the onion is translucent, add half the butter, thyme and your mushrooms.
4. After 2-3 minutes, add the white wine. Once combined, add your peas. Let cook for an additional 2 minutes.
5. Begin adding your gnocchi as they are cooked and the last bit of butter. Once all the gnocchi are in the frying pan, add the Parmesan cheese and the pancetta back into the pan. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Wine Pairing for this dish: I paired this dish with a Fiano from Campania. It is a dry white wine with good acidity and some greenness. On the nose you smell lemon, and some green apple. It contrasted well with the butter in the dish. You could easily have a chablis or a sauvignon blanc with it as well.
Tip for Freezing:
The uncooked gnocchi can be frozen, but they have to be frozen without touching each other or they will stick together. I suggest lining a baking sheet with parchment, placing the gnocchi on the sheet and covering with tin foil. Freeze flat overnight, once frozen, you can put them in a Ziploc bag.
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