Pillowy potato dumplings known as gnocchi dates back to the 12th century and have been a staple in European cuisine. The morsels became popular with the peasants since abundant potatoes can be substituted for pricy semolina flour to make a comforting pasta. They probably did not realize potatoes provided the much needed vitamins magnesium, potassium, vitamin C, B6, and folate for healthy babies and building strong bodies.
Originally eggs were not used in the dough but now they are a common ingredient even though many Italians say it makes the gnocchi too heavy. I have tried both doughs and can taste a slight difference in the texture but feel the technique is more important than the addition of eggs. Let me know what you think after you try an eggless and egg gnocchi.
After seeing acclaimed chef Drew Van Leuvan whip together the dough at the Morningside Market, I decided to make my own at home with a little coaxing from my daughter who loves gnocchi. For many years, Drew made gnocchi for some of the finest restaurants in town before opening his restaurant, Seven Lamps. He knows all the tricks to make the perfect morsels and provides detailed instructions for preparing gnocchi in a simple wine, lemon and garlic glaze with fresh herbs and Sungold tomatoes.
Drew uses chicken egg yolks in his dough since he feels it binds the ingredients better and has more flavor with the added fat. The dough is less likely to fall apart in the boiling water too. I bought duck eggs to use in my dough but ended up having to borrow a chicken egg from a neighbor since one of the duck eggs was rotten. My second rotten egg experience and hope it is the last. The smell….
Since my son cannot eat chicken eggs from the grocery store, I had to make an eggless gnocchi and used Drew’s recipe as a guide for texture and feel. After mixing the potato and flour together, I did knead in some olive oil to moisten the dough and it worked beautifully. Thank you Keepin” It Kind for the recommendation. I found the key to making eggless gnocchi is letting the dough rest for 20 minutes covered with a towel before rolling out the dough and cutting the pieces.
Drew measures all the ingredients with a scale since gnocchi can become soggy if you do not add the right amount of flour and potatoes. He believes roasting the potatoes instead of boiling removes the moisture and creates a lighter gnocchi. Drew recommends roasting the whole jacketed potatoes on a bed of kosher salt a 1/2″ in thickness to drawn out the moisture. When the potatoes are soft, remove from the oven and immediately cut them in half to remove the steam.
Another trick is to use BREAD flour. He provides exact measurements to ensure you add enough to the dough. If you are gluten free, use your favorite gluten free flour with this recipe and let me know what you think. Make sure you coat your work surface with flour to ensure the dough does not stick.
If you want to try gnocchi before making your first batch at home, order the Idaho Potato Gnocchi with Broccoli Rabe and Beef Bolognese from Seven Lamps. I am sure they can make a vegetarian version for you too. Seven Lamps is located right next to Lenox Mall at Around Lenox. The restaurant is named after the Seven Lamps of architecture: sacrifice, truth, power, beauty, life, memory and obedience. All things that apply to a well run kitchen and how food can impact our memories and lives.
Drew has fostered relationships with local farmers to bring the freshest seasonal ingredients to his restaurant. The menu changes weekly to feature these farm fresh ingredients so you can always try something new. Look for juicy cherry tomatoes like the Sungold variety from Cimino Farms in Reynolds, Ga. You can find many of these farmers at the Morningside Market on Saturdays.
1) Cook the Potatoes- Place kosher salt on a tray about 1/2″ thick and place whole potatoes on the salt. Roast for 45 minutes or until a fork easily goes through the middle. Immediately cut the potatoes in half to release the steam. When cool to the touch, peel and rice in food mill. If you do not have a food mill but have a garlic press, you can use it too but it is much more time consuming.
2) Make the Dough- Add 900 grams of riced potatoes to a bowl. Add 160 grams of egg yolks or 8 chicken egg yolks. Add 20 grams of Back To Organic Margarita Himalayan or Lemon Twist Himalayan to the bowl. Mix until thoroughly combined. Add 140 grams of bread flour to potato mix and knead until a dough forms. Knead adding bench flour until a smooth ball forms. Test the dough by throwing a piece in boiling water to see if it floats after a minute. If the gnocchi falls apart, you need more flour.
3) Cutting the Gnocchi- Flour the work surface. Form a log of dough and cut into 5 equal sections. Using your palms, roll out the dough into a log 1″ in diameter. Use a knife or long stainless pastry icing spreader to cut 1″ pieces of gnocchi. Set gnocchi aside on a lightly floured parchment lined sheet.
4) Cook the Gnocchi- Gently place the gnocchi in boiling water and cook for 45 seconds to 1 minute until they float. Remove with a strainer and add to a oiled or butter bowl.
Note: If you plan to make a large batch and freeze the gnocchi, then boil the bite size gnocchi for 30 seconds or until they float. Coat them in oil so they last longer in the freezer and let cool. Place in a freezer safe glass dish or ziplock and freeze for several months. This recipe makes 3 pounds of Gnocchi.
5) Make the Sauce- Heat 1/2 bottle of white wine, 1/2 pound of butter, 5 sliced garlic cloves, and 2 tablespoons of chili flakes to a boil. Reduce until a glaze forms. Add fresh herbs or greens and wilt gently. Recommend using sage and thyme. Add the tomatoes and stir gently. Just warm the tomatoes for a minute or they will pop. Squeeze half of a lemon over the top to brighten the sauce.
6) Plate- Add the gnocchi back into the sauce and warm. Place the gnocchi, glazed tomatoes and greens on a plate and spoon more sauce over the top. Add salt and pepper to taste. Use a pinch of Back to Organic Black Truffle salt for a real treat. Garnish with fresh sage or thyme leaves. Finish with bread crumbs and a shredded hard cheese. Enjoy!
Photos at the Morningside Market provided by TC Brodnax.