While working at Fundació Alicia in Spain, one of our last duties as an intern was to make a dish that is typical of where we live — that was an intimidating task considering that two of the staff were elBulli chefs. My Italian roommate and fellow intern, Michela, wanted to do a trial run of her dish, gnocchi, at the apartment. Again, we cooked side-by-side, as I made the gluten-free version of her gnocchi. These pillows of deliciousness are worth the time and work, as well as the sauce.
She taught me that gnocchi is a very basic ratio: 1 kilogram of potatoes to 100 grams of flour to 1 egg with a generous pinch of salt. While working at a restaurant in Bologna, she made 10 kilogram batches of gnocchi on a regular basis. (That is 22 pounds: a lot of gnocchi.) The secret to perfect gnocchi, she confided, was that half the potatoes should be starchy (russets/Idaho) and the other half waxy (red). The flour has very little impact in this recipe, and I figured that potato flour made the most sense to use since it's naturally gluten-free. It makes so much sense that I wonder why all potato gnocchi is not made with potato flour.
For the gnocchi:
- 500 grams (about 1 pound) russet or Idaho potatoes, peeled and cut medium dice
- 500 grams (about 1 pound) red potatoes
- 1 large egg, room temperature, lightly beaten
- 100 grams (about 1 cup) potato starch, plus more for dusting
For the tomato sauce:
- 3 cloves garlic, minced fine
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- One 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
- ½ teaspoon salt, to taste
- Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
- Dried chile flakes, to taste (optional)
- 10 fresh basil leaves, cut chiffonade (very thin strips), save some for garnish
- Grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese, for garnish
For the gnocchi:
Put the potatoes in a large pot of salted water. Cook over high heat until fork tender, about 10-15 minutes. Drain through colander and immediately run potatoes through food mill or ricer (in batches, as needed) onto a large jelly roll pan. Make sure that the potatoes are evenly distributed in order to cool off efficiently. (This prevents heavy gnocchi.) Allow the potatoes to cool to room temperature.
Using a bench scraper or a butter knife cut a ½-inch slice of the dough and roll into a rod about ¾ inch in diameter and dust with potato starch. Cut the rod of dough into small pieces, using the first joint of your index finger as a guide to ensure consistent sizing. Transfer to jelly roll pan, and make sure the entire surface of the gnocchi are lightly dusted. Repeat until all of the dough are in the form of gnocchi. Have a large pot of salted water boiling and add in the gnocchi. Once the gnocchi have risen to the surface, they are done, about 2-4 minutes. Transfer with a spider to your pot of tomato sauce, gently fold, garnish, and serve immediately.
For the tomato sauce:In a large sauté pan, much more efficient than a sauce pan, sauté the garlic and olive oil over low-medium heat until aromatic. Add in the canned tomatoes. Bring up temperature to medium. Add in salt, pepper, and chile flakes. Stir occasionally. Once the tomatoes start simmering, use a potato masher to break down the tomatoes into a smooth yet hardy texture. Allow to cook, simmering and stirring occasionally, thickening for about 10-15 minutes depending upon your preference. Add in most of the basil, reserving some for garnish. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed.
DetailsServes: 6-8 people
Total time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
The gnocchi can be made ahead and kept frozen. To do this, freeze the jelly roll pan of gnocchi until frozen solid. Transfer to an airtight container for storing. Have a pot of boiling salted water ready to put the frozen gnocchi in.
This is part of Food Network's Summer Soiree. Check out The FN Dish. The summer produce we're focusing on here is basil. On twitter, we're tagging #SummerSoiree. Here are other delicious basil recipes to try out:
Devour: Pesto, Change-o: 6 Recipes to Use Up Leftover Basil
Feed Me Phoebe: Brazilian-Style Moqueca Fish Packets with Coconut Milk, Tomatoes and Herbs
In Jennie's Kitchen: Peach & Basil Panzanella
The Lemon Bowl: Thai Basil Shrimp
Elephants and the Coconut Trees: Basil Seeds Limeade
Creative Culinary: Ricotta, Lemon and Basil Pasta Salad
TasteBook: Frozen Basil Daiquiri
Healthy Eats: 7 Summer Dishes That Aren't Complete Without Basil
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Roasted Fingerling Potatoes & Tomatoes with Basil
The Mom 100: Shrimp and Corn Salad with Basil Dressing
Swing Eats: Gluten-Free Gnocchi With Tomato Sauce And Basil
Taste with the Eyes: Mandilli di Seta al Pesto (Handkerchief Pasta) #glutenfree
FN Dish: 7 Ways to Take Fresh Basil Beyond Pesto