There are many variations on gnocchi, or dumplings. Some are made with potatoes, others with a combination of spinach and potatoes, and still others like those of Sardinia use saffron in the dough. There are also gnocchi made from semolina flour, which is light and delicate.
This recipe comes from my Italian friend Maria Castaldo, a southern Italian who doesn't top these potato gnocchi with the traditional tomato sauce; rather, she uses a Gorgonzola cheese sauce, something more common in the north of Italy. The trick to making potato gnocchi is to add just the minimum amount of flour to the potatoes - otherwise the gnocchi will be too heavy. I always weigh my flour when making these dumplings. Two cups of lightly spooned flour, or 8 ounces, seems to work well.
2 pounds potatoes
2 cups King Arthur™ Unbleached, All-Purpose Flour
1 large egg, slightly beaten
2 tablespoons minced fresh Italian parsley
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/2 pound Gorgonzola cheese
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons tomato sauce
Boil, bake, or microwave the potatoes until tender. Cool and peel them, then place in a large bowl. Mash the potatoes with a hand masher. You should have about 4 cups of mashed potatoes. Add the flour, egg, parsley, nutmeg, salt, and 1/4 cup grated cheese. Mix well with your hands. If the mixture seems too sticky, add up to 1/2 cup more flour. To test for the right amount of flour, make a few gnocchi and drop them into a pot of boiling water. If they rise to the surface and hold their shape without disintegrating, the proportion of flour to potato is correct.
Divide the dough into 6 pieces. Work with 1 piece at a time on a floured surface and roll it into a rope about 30 inches long and the width of your middle finger. Cut the rope with a knife into 1-inch pieces. Roll each piece on the tines of a fork and place the gnocchi on a floured baking sheet in a single layer. Continue until all the dough is used.
For the sauce, cut the Gorgonzola in chunks and place in a saucepan with the cream and tomato sauce. Heat the mixture over medium-high heat until the cheese is melted. Keep warm.
In a large pot, bring 6 quarts of water to a boil. Gently add the gnocchi and cook just until they bob to the surface. Drain them with a slotted spoon, place in a serving dish, and toss with half the sauce. Add the remaining sauce, sprinkle on the remaining 1/4 cup of grated cheese, and serve hot.
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