Thursday, December 15, 2011

Making Gnocchi

As a senior in high school applying to various colleges, I fantasized about attending a small liberal arts school where I would get to know my professors on a personal level. They would find me so brilliant that they would invite me over for dinner and we would have deep, intellectual discussions. Obviously, I have super nerdy dreams. And it turns out that small liberal arts schools are incredibly expensive so I ended up at a public state university. But I've still gotten to know several professors. One of those professors was my professor for Spanish III and the program director for my study abroad trip to Costa Rica. A small group of us students, plus my professor, got to know each other fairly well during our month abroad. And we spent a lot of time talking about food. It turns out my professor knows how to make gnocchi and pasta, from scratch! She promised to teach us and this past Tuesday we were all finally able to get together. And now I know how to make gnocchi!

I know more of a method, than an exact recipe. But I had such a great time I thought I'd share it with you. So if you want to feed an army, you start out by boiling a 5 pound bag of peeled potatoes until tender. Drain the potatoes in a colander. Then use a potato ricer to rice all of your potatoes. You'll do this in batches, making several piles so the potatoes can cool.

Once all of your potatoes are riced you spread a whole bunch of flour onto your surface (we didn't measure, but I'd say at least 2 cups). Then you work together the potatoes and flour until they form a dough. When the dough gets sticky, just add more flour. And note, no eggs so this gnocchi is vegan friendly! (I specifically asked my professor/execute chef why no eggs, and she said that she thought they made the gnocchi more dense.)

Once the dough is formed you start pulling chunks to roll into thin rope strands. Once you have your strands, you cut your gnocchi with a regular kitchen knife. Once you cut your gnocchi press your thumb into it to make a little dent. Toss the gnocchi into the flour to keep them from getting sticky.

Once your gnocchi are formed, toss them into a pot of boiling water. You'll need to do this in batches because you'll have a ton of gnocchi. You know they're done cooking when they float to the top. It shouldn't take more than two minutes. Now after the gnocchi are cooked, it's really up to you. We put ours in a baking dish with liberal amounts of red sauce and cheese, then baked it in the oven for a few minutes. Served with garlic bread and salad in the company of great friends, it was a perfect meal.

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