I am not a kitchen Nazi. I also use short-cuts when I can or teach people how to make life easier and simpler. One of my favorite tricks in the kitchen I learned living here is to use instant mashed potatoes for gnocchi.
I had bought some incredibly tender potato gnocchi in the grocery store and reading the label to see what the ingredient list was, noted they used mashed potato flakes. So simple.
Italian mashed potato flakes are really fabulous and I use them a lot for a quick side dish, so I thought, why not try.
The secret is to only use the water as the liquid to basically rehydrate the flakes into a mashed potato and not add the milk, which then makes "mashed potatoes". OK?
It would take an hour to boil a WHOLE potato in the skin in salted water for the traditional recipe.
Most recipes I have seen also add an egg. I don't use an egg.
I think one of the reasons most people make heavy gnocchi is they end up adding too much flour.
Right now I am on my way down to Rome to take a pizza class with Gabrielle Bonci of Pizzarium like I did last January. So will just give you a basic idea to play with on how to make my gnocchi, which basically is how people give you recipes here, spoken with no real measurements.
Divina Cucina Gnocchi
Here the mashed potato flakes come in a box in packages. I use two packages for about 4-6 people as a first course.
Each package says to use 300ml of water. I salt the water and bring to a boil and then stir in the flakes. Once i have the rehydrated potato mixture I put in on the work space to cool.
This lets extra steam out and cools it down.
I start with about a cup of Italian 00 flour, which is like a pastry flour in America, delicate and low gluten. I knead the flour into the potato until it is not sticky.
You may need more flour, sometimes I just need to flour the tabletop I am working on.
( yes you can use a bowl)
Meanwhile bring a pot of water to boil to cook the gnocchi, add salt.
Roll out a test rope of the gnocchi mixture, and cut into small pieces and if you like roll on the back of a fork to create ridges, which let the sauce stick to the gnocchi better and at the same time you are creating a little belly button on the other side, which makes it thinner and cook faster.
Drop some test gnocchi into the water ( turn it down from a hard boil).
The gnocchi will float to the top when they are done.
DO NOT LET THEM SIT IN THE WATER TOO LONG!
Take them out of the water with a strainer, draining off excess water. I lightly press to see if they are firm enough and not slimy. If they are perfect, then I roll out the other gnocchi and start cooking.
I like to have my sauce already made and in a skillet, where the gnocchi can stay hot.
As you layer, you can also sprinkle with some parmesan cheese and lightly stir to cover with sauce.
I usually do a simple garlic and chili infused tomato sauce that cooks in the time it takes to boil the water for the gnocchi.
A great recipe to teach kids and was perfect for this family class!
Rolling your own is a blast.
If the dough is too wet, add a little more flour.
Don't form all the gnocchi until you have poached a test gnocchi.
Keep the sauce simple.
Brown butter and parmesan
The basket you see in the foto is from Calabria and is for putting ridges on gnocchi- then I flipped it over to use to take the gnocchi to the pot to cook.
Another IMPORTANT detail- DO NOT COOK ALL THE GNOCCHI AT ONCE
They cook quickly and you can weight them down so they don't rise up to the top and then they will overcook and get water-logged.
Cook in small batches.
Let me know how your's turn out!