I love growing potatoes because they are an almost free crop. Every year I buy a potato from the grocery store, cut it up, plant it in the dirt, and it yields more potatoes than I know what to do with.
So. What to do with all those potatoes?
I like to make gnocchi with them.
Gnocchi are thick, soft dumplings made with potatoes, flour, and eggs. It’s a great beginner pasta to try, and you don’t need a pasta maker to make it.
They are also a cheap vegetarian meal, especially if you have a garden. In my case, I used potatoes from my garden, an egg from my chickens, and then I tossed the gnocchi with a tomato-basil sauce, using all vegetables from my garden. Since I only paid for the flour, oil, and cheese, the entire meal cost under $1.
This recipe yields approximately 12 servings, or about 12 cups, of gnocchi. Even though making this dish is a little work up front, you can freeze the excess and easily have light, fluffy gnocchi for dinner at a future date.
I don’t claim to be an expert at shaping the gnocchi, but I do vouch for the texture and flavor being right. Here’s the recipe:
How To Make Gnocchi
(Makes 12 servings)
3 lbs potatoes
2 1/2-3 c flour
1/2 c oil
Cut the potatoes up into quarters and boil until soft. Drain and remove the skin, which should lift right off the flesh. Discard skins.
Mash the potatoes thoroughly, either by pushing them through a vegetable mill or running in a food processor. You want an even, lump-free texture.
Pile the potatoes on a work surface and sprinkle with 2 cups of flour. Knead until potatoes and flour are combined. Make a well in the center of the dough and break the egg into the well and sprinkle with salt, like so:
Insert your finger or a fork into the egg and start swirling so it pulls in the potato and flour. Do this until the eggs are integrated and you have a ball of pasta dough. If it still feels sticky or like mashed potatoes, add 1/2-1 cup more flour slowly. (I think I used about 2 3/4 cups flour.) Knead for about 5 minutes until it starts to feel like bread dough.
Divide the dough into 8 balls. Take a ball and, using the palms of your hands, roll it out into long dowels about 3/4 inch thick:
Take a knife and cut the dowel into 1-inch pieces. Transfer to a cooking sheet to wait while you repeat with all the dough. Be careful the pieces of gnocchi don’t touch or they will stick together.
Now you have formed the gnocchi, but you still have to blanch the dough to keep them from sticking. To do this, prepare a pot of salted boiling water and another bowl of ice water. Put the gnocchi into the boiling water and wait until they begin to float (about 1 minute), then transfer to the ice water.
Suddenly, you will have recognizable gnocchi! Magic!
Fish the gnocchi out of the ice water and put in a large bowl. Add the oil to the bowl and mix with the gnocchi so they won’t stick together.
Proceed to cook the gnocchi like you would regular pasta.
Or, if not using right away, spread the gnocchi on a cookie sheet and stick in the freezer. When the gnocchi is solidly frozen, transfer to a freezer-safe container until ready to use.