Gnocchi, pasta made with potatoes, has always been a friend of mine. Gnocchi, the best of it anyway, melts in your mouth and serves as the perfect carrier of sauce. My favorite sauces are brown butter with sage (which goes nicely with the potatoes in the gnocchi) or tomato sauce with mozzarella, which is also known as “alla Sorrentina.” Gnocchi and I are BFFs who go back a long way, but it wasn’t always a simple relationship.
I was frustrated with gnocchi. It’s hard to make the potato pasta from scratch. The first and last time my mother tried her hand at gnocchi, she seemed to have done a great job. Then, she popped her delicate gnocchi into the pot of boiling water and they would simply disappear. It was magic. Actually, she probably just didn’t use enough flour, which does make the gnocchi heavier. She had good intentions. But the trick is to get a feel for the gnocchi. After lots of practice, you start to realize just how much flour you need to keep the gnocchi light but also keep them in one piece. Ever since my mom’s gnocchi blunder, we always keep a box of pasta nearby in case our gnocchi doesn’t make it.
Making gnocchi is a wonderful distraction and probably even reduces stress (once you get past the practice stage that is). One Sunday morning recently, I set out to make gnocchi. (To view photos, visit the “Gnocchi alla Sorrentina” photo album.) I’ve gotten pretty good at it over the years. I use instructions and the recipe from Lidia Bastianich. To make them alla Sorrentina, I used my own recipe. I basically made a marinara sauce (minus the onions), boiled the gnocchi, put the gnocchi in individual baking dishes, smothered it in mozzarella and put it in the oven until the cheese was melted, bubbling, and slightly brown.
My next goal: To try Bastianich’s recipe for butternut squash gnocchi, which appeared in a recent issue of Bon Appetit magazine. My mouth is already watering.
Please share your recipes with my readers at the About.com Newlyweds’ Recipe Exchange. I can’t wait to see them!