Growing up as a swimmer, I loved pasta. I could have pasta every day of my life and be totally satisfied (my waistline might not be too happy though). My family would always go to Italian restaurants before competitions so we could get our pasta fix, and I would always end up with the same meals…either pasta with alfredo or spaghetti with meat sauce. No variations please, I was a pretty picky eater.
Fast forward to High School, and I started expanding my palette a bit. One night, we went to a local Italian restaurant to meet with family for dinner. I remember looking at the menu, and I Couldn’t believe how many different types of pasta and sauces there were! Where had I been my whole life! I mean, this was more than just the chain restaurant down the street where the menu rarely changes. This was fresh pasta made to order with real local ingredients. Only problem, I just wasn’t in the mood for pasta that night….wait, did I just say that? Yeah, I really wasn’t feeling my favorite food. The only other option on the menu was gnocchi, and it was something I had never had before. It was enough of variety for me to try it, but boy was I missing out all those years.
These days, I love switching out gnocchi for pasta. Within a few months of going gluten free, I started making this dough myself to have on hand. Gluten free gnocchi was expensive, and honestly I didn’t have the kind of budget for that. This recipe was made completely by accident when I had no idea what I could add for some variety, but it turned out delicious.
This dough is a little soft, and makes a gluten free gnocchi that is delicate and rich. I like to cook them in smaller batches, since it only takes a minute or two for them to cook. If you like a firmer or chewier gnocchi, you could certainly add a little more flour (but be careful not to add too much). This dough also doesn’t freeze well, and is much better fresh. I usually make a larger batch for dinner and eat the cooked leftovers for a few days. If you don’t make the full batch right away, form a ball with the remaining dough and sprinkle a little flour to coat the outside. Then wrap it in plastic wrap and place in the fridge to use the next day.
I also love the addition of ricotta. I feel like I could use it in anything and be happy with the result. My favorite is to spread it on toast in the morning with a drizzle of honey and sea salt. Putting it in gnocchi, in my opinion, adds a little extra richness to the dough. Once my potatoes are cooled down, I start by scooping out my potatoes and removing the skin, then passing them through a potato ricer and placing them into a large mixing bowl. If you don’t have a ricer, you can also grate your potatoes – just make sure they are completely cooled before handling them! In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, ricotta cheese, and a pinch of salt. Pour the egg mixture into the riced potatoes and stir them until everything is just combined, then start to add the flour. I add 1/4 cup at a time, just until the dough comes together. If you are using ricotta with a little excess liquid in it, you may need to add a little more flour. Not straining the ricotta definitely adds a creamier texture and rich taste to the gnocchi, but keep in mind the dough will be very soft without the extra flour.
Once your dough is combined, keep it in the mixing bowl and pop it in the fridge for a few minutes while you get everything ready. Sprinkle some flour onto a cutting board, then grab a small piece of dough at a time and gently roll into logs about 1/2 – 1 inch thick. You don’t have to press the tops with a fork or use a gnocchi board, these are just as great as little fluffy pillows! Cut your gnocchi into small segments and place them into simmering water in small batches. Make sure your water isn’t boiling, or your gnocchi could fall apart. I turn it down to a slight simmer once the water starts to boil, then cook the gnocchi just until they float to the surface. Scoop them out and place them into a warm pan with your favorite sauce!
Your cutting doesn’t have to be perfect (mine certainly isn’t!) and no heavy sauces necessary. These would even be perfect with just a simple sage butter sauce, or even a drizzle of olive oil. Yum.