Making your own noodles is one of those things that most cooks want to do at least once in their lives. It is an experience much like making your first loaf of "from scratch" bread or making your own sushi and getting the sticky rice exactly right. I have not made my own noodles from scratch, though it has been on my cooking bucket list for a long time. However, the other day, I received a recipe in my email inbox from Nudo Italia, the company from whom I adopt an Italian olive tree to reap the delicious, oily benefits. The recipe was entitled, "How to Make the Perfect Gnocchi," so you can imagine that I was interested in giving it a shot, especially given the fact that Gnocchi are often made with potatoes, an in-season root vegetable which my wife and I have in abundance right now due to our CSA.
All in all, my first foray into noodles (or noodle's cousins) went off quite well. As always, the recipe below comes with a ton of notes and things that I learned during this first attempt. I normally don't stick to the recipe, but in this instance, I stayed true because noodles, like baking, can be hard on the experimenter, causing a loaf of bread, for example, to turn into a rock or a pancake. Nevertheless, I will be doing this again in the near future and I will update this post if there are more things I learn the second time around.
Based on How to make the perfect gnocchi from Nudo Italian Recipes.
Yield: 4 Servings, Total time: Approximately 50 minutes
- 2 2/3 cups Potatoes
- 3/4 cup Wheat Flour
- 2 eggs
- Boil the potatoes whole in salted water with their skins on for 20 minutes or until tender. Wait until they are cool enough to handle, then peel off the skins and mash potatoes (until very smooth mash is achieved) with your favorite implement.
- Mix the flour, mash, and eggs, kneading into an even dough.
- On a well-floured surface, shape the dough into 3/4-inch-diameter rolls.
- Cut the length of the dough into small pieces, marking the pieces with a fork.
- Bring a large pot of water to boil and drop in the gnocchi pieces. When they bob to the top, they are done, generally 2-3 minutes, depending on their final size.
- Scoop out Gnocchi and toss in your favorite sauce.
- The potatoes are not skinned first because they absorb too much water if they are.
- The original recipe calls for a potato ricer, which would be a good investment for this type of application, since you literally want no potato chunks in the final dough.
- That being said, I do not have a potato ricer. A lot of people who know me know that I love using a meat tenderizer, which would otherwise go unused since my wife and I are vegetarians, for such things. I had to pay much closer attention to the final mash consistency, which is why I simply suggested using your favorite implement for such a job.
- In my first batch, I did not flour the surface I was working on nearly enough, so be sure to use more flour than you expect. However, the original recipe does suggest to not overdo it with the flour because the final product shouldn’t taste like it.
- I felt that my final pieces were a little on the small side in my first batch, but that is definitely the cook’s prerogative. In my second batch, I made the pieces a lot bigger and they needed to cook longer because of it. I will look for a healthy medium in the future.
- I marked my Gnocchi with a fork, which is normal, but I have seen all sorts of marking implements used for this purpose. I have it on good authority that the reason for marking them is to help them keep their shape and hold more sauce.
- Don’t overcook the gnocchi; when they float, they are done.
- I ate my gnocchi with Nudo’s own organic pesto and it turned out great; the second time, I used olive oil and parmesan which worked out, as well. I would be interested in trying them with a creamier sauce since it would coat them more thoroughly than the pesto did.
- Another thing I would like to try is adding seasonings and/or a hard Italian cheese (Parmesan, Pecorino, Asiago, or Romano, for instance) to the dough; I think the addition would really liven up the taste to allow for a simple aioli or olive oil drizzle, instead of another actual “sauce”. The other possibility is using different kinds of potatoes, think "Sweet Potato Gnocchi".
- Lastly, I would suggest using the entirety of your dough the same day you make it. I stored a small amount to make for my parents a few days later and it was not easy to work with, requiring much more flour than originally suggested to get it working again.