Homemade Gnocchi with Pesto
Well, making homemade gnocchi was an adventure to say the least. In the end, it didn't look too pretty, but it did taste good.
We set out to make our gnocchi dough late one night with the intention of refrigerating it and making it the next night. We began by reading this article entitled "How to Make Gnocchi Like an Italian Grandmother," which told us to boil two pounds of halved Russet potatoes for approximately 45 minutes, or until tender. Once the potatoes were cooked, we pulled the skin off and mashed the potatoes with the tines of a fork to the uniform texture you see below.
We waited approximately ten minutes for the potatoes to cool before we added one large egg and one cup of flour. It's important to let the potatoes cool, because you don't want your egg to cook as you incorporate it into the dough.
We used a spatula to incorporate the flour and egg, scraping and folding until the dough was crumbly.
The recipe said you want your dough to be "moist, but not sticky," and that it should feel "billowy." For whatever reason, we had to add a lot more flour, and we still ended up with a sticky mess. I suppose those gnocchi gods mentioned in the article were not smiling down upon us. In the end, we got an acceptable dough that looked like what you see below.
We placed that dough in an oiled bowl, covered it with plastic wrap, and placed it in the refrigerator, as other gnocchi-making articles suggested. The next day when we went to roll out the logs and cut the gnocchi, we had another huge sticky disaster, so of course, we added more flour. We rolled out the logs, but they weren't really working for us, and when we cut them into gnocchi, everything was sticking to the board, the knife, and our fingers. It was a mess to say the least. That's why they are no more pictures of the gnocchi making process! We just took the ugly pieces of gnocchi dough and dropped them into boiling water without shaping the dough or adding ridges. There was no way the dough would have retained its integrity after that process! Plus we were pretty frustrated with all of the stickiness. Approximately three minutes later, our little gnocchi pillows, the ugly stepchildren of pasta, were ready to be topped.
I created some simple, homemade pesto to put on top, combining two cups of basil leaves, 1/4 cup of pine nuts, three cloves of garlic, salt and pepper in a food processor. Then I slowly added 1/2 cup of olive oil until the mixture was uniform. Lastly I added 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese and pulsed with the processor until I had a heavenly smelling basil pesto in front of me.
We put the pesto on the gnocchi and added an additional sprinkling of shredded parmesan, which helped to hide their funky shapes. The gnocchi was soft and doughy, and tasted quite good despite its appearance. But maybe in the future, we'll leave the gnocchi making to the Italian grandmothers!