Sunday, May 8, 2011

Gnocchi and Gnudi

For those who don't know what gnocchi and gnudi is let me tell you.  Gnocchi is a traditional northern Italian potato pasta, that is small and dumpling shaped.  Gnudi means "naked dumpling," which it basically is.  It is much like the stuffing of ravioli but without the shell around. They are both delicious and easy to be locally made.  Also it is recommended you get a potato ricer or vegetable mill to help with the gnocchi. Don't forget you can add herbs and spices to these recipes in any way you want. Hope you enjoy!

Potato Gnocchi
1 1/2 pounds of Russet potatoes
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg, beaten well
1 1/2 to 2 cups all-purpose flour

Sauteed Gnocchi 
  1. Microwave the potatoes until tender when poked with a fork. Don't overcook them.
  2. As soon as the potatoes are cool enough to handle, peel them and feed them through the ricer or vegetable mill. Spread them out on a large baking tray or board and sprinkle  on the salt.  Then let them dry out and cool for at least 20 minutes. 
  3. Pour the beaten egg over the potatoes, and then 1 cup of the flour. Gather the mass together and knead, adding a little more flour as necessary to make the dough hold together. Keep it light; the more you work the dough, the more flour you'll need, and you don't want to incorporate too much or the gnocchi will be heavy and dry. A good criterion: slice the mass in half and examine the texture. It should look like cookie dough peppered with small holes. 
  4. Cut the dough into three equal pieces. Roll out each portion into a broomstick about 18 inches long, then cut crosswise into 2/3-inch pieces and toss them lightly in flour.  You should have about seventy-two gnocchi.  
  5. Take one piece of gnocchi and place it, cut side down, on the tines of a fork, then with your lightly floured thumb press into it, at the same time pushing it off the end of the fork and onto a floured board.  The gnocchi should have an indentation where your thumb was, and ridges from the fork tines on the other side. Repeat with all the remaining pieces, and cover with a clean towel.  At this point you should be cooked right away or quickly frozen.
  6. To be frozen: Spread the gnocchi out, none of them touching each other, on a floured baking pan or whatever will fit in your freezer, and freeze them.  When they are solid (about 2 hours) gather them together, shake off excess flour, and store them in sealed plastic bags. They should keep for 6 weeks although we have kept ours longer and they taste fine.  When you want to cook them after being frozen,  either saute or boil half a batch at a time, and double the amount of cooking water.  (Frozen gnocchi seem to taste better if you just saute them in a little oil right out of the freezer rather than boiling them first). 
  7. To cook fresh gnocchi: Bring salted water to a boil and drop five or six gnocchi in at a time. In 2 to 3 minutes, when they plump up and float to the surface fish them out with a strainer or slotted spoon.  You can then mix them with some tomato sauce, pesto sauce, sage butter or some fresh vegetables
1 pound fresh ricotta, drained
1 egg
1/4 freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Gran Padano
6 tablespoons fine bread crumbs (don't throw away that stale bread!)
1/4 cup flour, plus flour for rolling
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper, a generous amount
1 cup dry spinach puree, prepared from 20 ounces frozen or fresh spinach (Optional)

  1. Start heating a large pot of salted water.
  2. Blend the ricotta and the egg together in large bowl.  Mix in the cheese, bread crumbs, flour, salt and pepper (and spinach if you want), and knead lightly. 
  3. Test the consistency of the dough by scooping up a heaping tablespoon, forming it into a ball, and flouring it. Drop it into the boiling water; if it does not hold its shape and rise to the surface of the water within a minute, add more bread crumbs to your dough. 
  4. When you have the right consistency, shape all of  the dough into small balls, rough lightly in flour, and lay them out on baking sheets covered in parchment paper. 
  5. To freeze them: do it the same way as you freeze gnocchi (look above). 
  6. To cook fresh gnudi: drop the gnudi gently one by one into the boiling water and cook for about 2 to 3 minutes, until they rise to the top, and come to a rolling boil. To test for doneness, scoop out a ball and press it with your fingers: the dumpling dough when cooked should bounce back, leaving no indentation. 25 to 30 gnudi.


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