I’ve been dreaming about these light as air pillows since I morphed into a serious home cook. Years ago, I wanted to venture into gnocchi territory but something always frightened me. I figured homemade gnocchi was like homemade pasta, something that is conceptually easy to make but turns out to be a difficult-to-master technique passed down from Italian mamas and Italian grand-mamas. Pasta and gnocchi have always scared me and made me feel that if I messed them up, my Italian heritage may somehow disown me. But the more I experiment with new recipes and come out on the other end either learning a lesson or deliciously rewarded, the more I want to try recipes that feel weighty and quite impossible.
Gnocchi isn’t a breeze of a recipe, but it’s actually not as impossible as I had thought. I had heard that a little practice would deliver the perfect gnocchi, puff balls that are light, airy, and of an almost melt-in-your-mouth consistency. I’ve never made gnocchi until today and miraculously, I think I got it right.
As I researched gnocchi techniques and recipes, I was surprised to encounter the dilemma first timers mull – whether to use eggs or choose an authentic but harder method that uses just potatoes, salt and flour. Eggs help you bind the dough, making it easier to roll, shape and boil. Without eggs, you have to find just the right ratio of flour to potato and exhibit loads of patience as you roll and boil, as an egg-less dough has a tendency to fall apart. I was going to take the easy way out of this dilemma as I am all for easy, but Tessa Kiros convinced me otherwise.
Tessa Kiros is a fabulous home cook, inspired by her childhood and family, her eclectic background, the Mediterranean, everything. This home cook also happens to be the author of some of the most beautiful cookbooks I have ever seen. Here’s a video of her discussing 2007’s Apples for Jam. And I found this lovely video that profiles her family and earlier cookbook, Falling Cloudberries (which has been reissued). This week, I finally and gratefully added Twelve and Venezia to my collection and she inspired me to be bold, like her Italian recipes. I created these pillows from my farm’s waxy potatoes, some Italian doppio zero flour and kosher salt. Thanks to Tess, there was not an egg in sight.
Luckily and surprisingly, it worked. On the first try. Yes, I was gobsmacked too! All I can offer is this lazy Sunday afternoon permitted me to take my time and really listen to the dough, paying attention to the texture and not over-working it. I also used some very finely milled flour, though theoretically any old white flour would have produced similar results. I will say that boiling up a small batch before deeming my mixture final was critical; it permitted me a chance to taste the lightness and stop adding flour.
With a drizzle of browned butter and freshly fried sage from my garden, I felt like Tessa gave me the keys to my Italian universe. I know I can cook great Italian food, with or without Tessa. But now I feel like I can make anything. Pasta doesn’t feel so out of reach after all. Perhaps next Sunday!
I topped my gnocchi with a browned butter that had a few sage leaves. I also made a sausage ragu, based loosely on a Tessa Kiros recipe from Twelve, that complimented them beautifully.
By the way, here are a few other nice recipes I found during my research:
Gnocchi di Patate
This recipe was adapted from Tessa’s base recipe.
This recipe was adapted from Tessa’s base recipe.
- 3 lbs of waxy potatoes, cleaned
- 12 ounces plain all-purpose flour (I used a finely milled doppio zero)
- Boil the potatoes in lightly salted water for 20 minutes, until tender. Drain them and when cool enough to handle, peel them.
- Pass the potatoes through a ricer or food mill. (If you don't have one, buy one. It's worth it and the only way to ensure light gnocchi. I purchased this one and it worked wonderfully. I cannot wait to see the wonder it works on my mashed potatoes.)
- Add a little salt to the potatoes and enough flour to make a soft, elastic dough. I mixed in 1 cup (8 ounces) of flour with my hands and then added another 1/2 cup (4 ounces) gradually. The dough may stick to your hands a touch.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Quickly, roll logs of dough on a floured work surface until the log is about 3/4 of an inch around. Gently cut the log into angled pillows that are about 1 inch long. Place the pillows on a floured baking sheet until you're ready to boil them.
- Before you boil them, make sure your desired sauce is ready. The gnocchi cooks in a few minutes. From the moment you pop them into the boiling water, you'll notice them buzz around and then quickly float to the top. Once they surface to the top of the water, they're done. Pull them out and place them in a buttered or oiled baking dish while you cook the rest.
- Top with your sauce and serve immediately. If you prefer, you may freeze the gnocchi on your baking sheet. Once frozen, place each piece in a freezer proof bag or container. You can boil them just as you would if they were fresh.
Eat Boutique was an award-winning shop and story-driven recipe site created by Maggie Battista – an author, business guide and alignment seeker. After hosting retail markets for 25,000+ guests, Maggie now supports entrepreneurs as they create values-based businesses through We Are Magic Studio. Follow Maggie Battista on Instagram.