Ciao Italia: My Lifelong Food Adventures in Italy
Mary Ann's newest book contains over 150 recipes, 60 gorgeous food photos, and many scenic pictures of Italy taken by Mary Ann on her travels through the years.
No one in my family makes gnocchi as well as Aunt Nancy Scatorchie. She can roll them off the tines of a fork with lightning speed. Perfect gnocchi depends on the use of mature potatoes and a minimal amount of flour; otherwise they will be too heavy. There are many variations of gnocchi; these little dumplings are covered with a zippy tomato sauce, dusted with Pecorino Romano cheese, and sprinkled with fresh basil.
4 large baking potatoes
1 large egg, beaten
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons grated Pecorino Romano cheese
About 2 cups King Arthur™ Unbleached, All-Purpose Flour
3 cups Fresh Tomato Basil Sauce
Grated Pecorino Romano cheese
Put the unpeeled potatoes in a large pot, add water to cover, and bring to a boil. Boil until tender, about 30 minutes. The potatoes can also be cooked in a microwave for 20 minutes. Let cool.
Peel the potatoes. In a large bowl mash them fine; do not use electric beaters or a food processor, which would make the potatoes too smooth. Add the beaten egg, salt, and cheese. Mix well.
Put 2 cups of flour on a work surface and make a well in the center. Put the potatoes in the center of the well. Knead the flour into the potatoes until a soft and smooth dough is formed. Add a little more flour if the dough seems too sticky.
Break off a small piece of the dough about the size of an egg and, with floured hands, roll the chunk into a rope about 14 inches long and the width of your middle finger. Cut the rope into 1-inch pieces and roll each piece with your thumb down and off the front of the tines of a floured fork: This creates little ridges to trap the sauce. As you form the gnocchi, place them in a single layer on a floured cloth or baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough.
In a large pot of boiling water, cook the gnocchi, a few at a time, until they rise to the surface. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, heat the tomato sauce. Spoon a thin layer of sauce over the bottom of a large serving platter. Transfer the cooked gnocchi with a slotted spoon to the platter. Spoon the remaining sauce over the gnocchi, sprinkle with grated Pecorino Romano cheese, and serve immediately.
Variation: To make spinach gnocchi, add 1 cup cooked spinach, squeezed dry and chopped, to the potato and egg mixture; add the flour. Then, instead of rolling the gnocchi on the tines of a fork, break off pieces of dough about the size of a marble and form them into small balls. Cook as directed above and serve with the tomato sauce.
Note: Uncooked gnocchi freeze well: Arrange them in a single layer on baking sheets, cover with foil, freeze until firm, and then transfer to plastic bags and freeze until needed. Boil them without thawing. My mother places frozen gnocchi directly into a baking dish, adds sauce, and bakes them, eliminating the boiling step: Bake at 350ºF for 30 to 35 minutes.