Gnocchi with “Fast Pan” Tomato Sauce
Updated: Jul 5, 2021
Homemade gnocchi is not hard. In fact, a child can do it!
I have made this recipe a number of times, each enlisting the tiny hands of helpers to roll and shape the pastas. Gnocchi (pronounced NYOW-kee) is a hand shaped Italian pasta or dumpling, the most common of which is classic potato gnocchi or gnocchi di patate, comprised of cooked potatoes, flour and eggs. The potatoes starches combined with the flour and egg, produces a soft, pillow like pasta dough. Then cut into sections and rolled on a gnocchi press or by using a fork to create indention. Followed by a boiling bath of well salted water, just for a few minutes. Gnocchi are so versatile, any sauce would do, but I particularly love a simple and bright tomato sauce to pair with the density and heartiness of the pasta.
Make it for yourself, make it for someone you love or make it with a "little" friend, being sure to have some laughs along the way.
Picture below was a dish created by our youngest chef Adelyn and we could not be more proud of her.
Gnocchi with “Fast Pan” Tomato Sauce
Pasta Ingredients: 3-4 medium (or 2 large) russet potatoes 1 large egg (beaten) 1 tsp kosher or sea salt 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour (plus more for work surface) 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese Approximately 1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
2-3 large cloves fresh garlic (minced) Or 4 -5 cloves of crushed roasted garlic 2 tsp olive oil 2 tbsp butter ½ to 1 tsp crushed red pepper (optional) 1 28 oz can good quality crushed tomatoes 1 tsp granulated sugar ½ tsp dried oregano 1 stem with multiple leaves fresh basil Salt and pepper to taste Grated Parmesan cheese and fresh basil for serving (optional)
To begin, you will need to cook the potatoes whole, pierced a few times with a fork. In a medium saucepan cover potato with cold water and season with a generous pinch of salt. Over medium heat bring water to a low boil and cook potatoes until fork tender, about 30 minutes, depending on the size. Drain potatoes and cool, split in half, cut side up, allowing steam to evaporate. Once cooled enough to handle, peel and discard the potato skins and cut potatoes into multiple large pieces so they can finish cooling to room temperature. You should have about 2 to 2 ½ cups of cooked potato.
With a fork or masher, break apart the potatoes, being careful not to over process the potatoes and their starches, until you have reached a “riced” consistency with no major lumps remaining. A few small “pea sized” lumps are OK. With your hands, create a mound on a large work service with your potatoes and form a well in the center. Add your beaten egg into the well you created and bring the potato and egg together carefully. Once incorporated, sprinkle with 1 ¼ cups of flour and 1/3 cup of Parmesan cheese. With your hands, knead the dough together into you have a large, smooth dough ball formed. Divide into four equal sections.
Sprinkle your work surface with additional flour and have a generously floured sheet pan and set to the side. By each section, roll pasta dough into a long log or rope like shape, that is about ½ inch in thickness. With a floured pastry cutter or knife, divide the dough rope into 1-inch sections and toss pasta pieces in the flour on the prepared sheet pan. This will prevent the pasta from drying out or sticking together. Continue with this method with each pasta dough section until you have all the gnocchi prepared.
Optional, using a Gnocchi press, which is a wooden ridged paddle, lightly roll each pasta piece along its side to create a slight ridged indent. You can also do this method with a fork. Once you have all the gnocchi shaped, bring a large pot of water, generously salted, to a boil. While water is heating prepare your sauce.
In a large skillet, heat two tablespoons of oil and butter until melted. Add minced garlic and cook until tender, stirring to prevent burning. Add crushed red pepper and continue to cook an additional few minute to allow pepper to “open” with flavor. Add 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes and season with oregano, salt, pepper and sugar. Add whole basil leaves and bring sauce to a simmer. Cook for about five minutes, stirring constantly. Once done, turn off the heat and let the sauce hang out. The idea is to not overcook the sauce but just allow the flavors to infuse one another resulting in a very bright red sauce.
Once water has reached a boil drop gnocchi in by handfuls and cook between two batches to not overcrowd the pot. Gnocchi will sink to the bottom. Give them a slight stir so they do not stick to each other and continue to boil until past begins to float to the surface of the water. Once they float give them one additional minute to reach al dente. With a slotted spoon scoop out cooked pasta and place them directly into your prepared sauce. Continue doing this until all the pasta dumplings are cooked. Return sauce to medium heat and carefully toss pasta around until well coated, about two to four minutes. Serve right away and top each helping generously with grated Parmesan and fresh basil.
~Serves four to six people.
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