Ok, so I’ve made gnocchi on this blog before, more specifically, butternut squash gnocchi with sage and butter sauce. However, while good, it wasn’t the delectable pillows that I have had at various Italian restaurants in the past. Those soft, warm little devils spanning the expanse of your plate, topped with a creamy sauce, they are oh so good. I too want to enjoy that in the comfort of my own home — you know, without having to invite Tom Colicchio over to make it.
I decided that with my newly purchased potato ricer, I should have a slightly better shot at getting the cooked potato to not be lumpy. Of course you can make gnocchi without one, but why not pick one up, they shouldn’t be more than ten or fifteen bucks.
I could have taken the easy route and made the gnocchi with a brown butter sauce, but no, I decided with my recently purchased arugula that I was going to make arugula pesto. It was so worth it, and with the “garlic confit” used in the sauce, it doesn’t get much better.
2 pounds starchy potatoes like russet
1 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt, plus more for cooking potatoes
Heat oven to 400 degrees. On a sheet pan spread about 2 tablespoons salt out evenly. Take potatoes and prick with a fork all over and then set on top of the salted pan. Cook potatoes for about 45 minutes to an hour, until a form can pierce them easily. Remove potatoes from oven and cut in half immediately.
After about 10 minutes, the potatoes should be cool enough to handle. Scoop out flesh or peel away skin and put potatoes through a ricer onto a plate to cool. Let cool for at least 15 minutes.
Sift flour into a medium bowl and mix with teaspoon of salt. Place all but about 1/4 cup of the potatoes onto a flat, clean work surface. sprinkle with about 2/3 of the flour and the olive oil. Gently form the mixture into a ball.
To test the dough, in a small sauce pan, boil salted water and test a piece of the dough. Pinch off a small 3/4 inch piece and place into water. It should sink, and then float after about one minute. If the gnoccho (singular for gnocchi) is tender and soft, you’re good to go. If it falls apart, you need to add more flour. If it sinks and is hard, add a bit more potato. You can use up your remaining potato, just adjust with flour as necessary.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Divide dough into quarters and roll our the dough into a rope about 1/2 inch thick. You can flour your surface and hands to make this easier. Once rolled, cut into 1/2 pieces. Gently use a fork to place ridges into each piece. Repeat with remaining dough and place onto baking sheet.
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Working in 3 or 4 batches, place gnocchi into water. Once they float, let them cook about another 15 seconds and remove with slotted spoon or wire skimmer.**
**If serving immediately, with pre-made sauce, you can quickly let them dry on paper towel, or transfer to a bowl. If not, you should fill a large bowl with ice and water to create an ice bath. Place cooked gnocchi into ice water until all are cooked. When done, drain and place into a airtight container with 1/4 cup of vegetable (or other) oil. They can be refrigerated for up to a week, or frozen for up to a month.**
When ready to eat, heat a large skillet over low heat with a tablespoon of butter. Once bubbling, add gnocchi to pan and heat for about 3-4 minutes. Top with sauce and eat immediately. Enjoy!!
Arugula Pesto Sauce
Makes about 2 cups
Recipe courtesy of Mark Bittman, with slight variations
2 1/2 cups arugula, washed well
1/4 cup sliced/chopped almonds
1/4 cup shredded ricotta salata
salt and pepper
3/4 cups olive oil, plus 1/4 cup olive oil
7-10 small garlic cloves (use less if they are larger, about 5 large)
In a medium saucepan add olive oil over low heat. Add garlic and cook until very soft, about 30 minutes. Set garlic aside in ramekin or bowl and olive oil separately.
For pesto, prepare a large bowl with an ice bath. In a small pot, heat several cups of water to boil. Blanch the arugula in the boiling water for about one minute, or until bright green. Immediately, using tongs, plunge the arugula into the ice bath. Drain well and then place inside a dish towel and ring out as much water as possible.
In a food processor, add half the arugula, half the garlic, half the ricotta salata, half the nuts and half the garlic oil. Blend for about 2 minutes, until completely incorporated. Add remaining ingredients and continue to blend. Slowly drizzle in remaining 1/4 cup olive oil and sprinkle in salt and pepper. Once formed into a nice pesto sauce, you can freeze for several weeks or refrigerate for up to a week. Serve over pesto. Enjoy!!