a personal challenge: potato gnocchi

I have always been intimidated by the kitchen. Even now, at times, I’ll see a recipe and feel a queasy sensation starting in the pit of my stomach if it looks a bit too long, a tad too complicated. You know the recipes I’m talking about – the ones that are so long that they carry over to the next page, or the ones labeled “intermediate” on the Food Network website.  Thoughts of “I can’t do that” start creeping back in my mind.

I have to confess – it wasn’t until recently that I’ve started learning my place in the kitchen. It doesn’t seem to come naturally to me the way it does for a lot of people. Over time, though, things are starting to make sense. It’s hard to explain how liberating it felt the first time I took the risk of not following a recipe exactly the way it was written…and it turned out fine! That was a great discovery, and I’m continuing to work on being more creative with my cooking. It’s a journey, but an exciting one to take.

Along this path to culinary wisdom, I’ve set some little challenges for myself. Making potato gnocchi was one of these hurdles that I was determined to overcome.  So, one day when I had an entire Saturday afternoon to myself, I did it. I made gnocchi. As it turns out, the process wasn’t nearly as overwhelming as I had built it up to be. In fact, it was a lot of fun. My technique could seriously be improved, but those gnocchi tasted darn good. I felt pretty proud of myself.

One challenge down, many more to go.

P.S. Shortly after making the gnocchi, I read about my friend Jennie’s experience making gnocchi. After reading her post, I almost couldn’t write this. Her little gnocchi were just so beautiful and perfect. She is definitely my pasta hero.

Yield: Serves 6.

Potato Gnocchi


2 pounds whole baking potatoes
2 beaten egg yolks
1 1/2 cup flour
Pinch of kosher salt
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Pierce potatoes in several places and bake until soft, about 1 hour. Cool slightly. Cut potatoes in half. Working in batches, scoop hot flesh into potato ricer or food mill. Rice potatoes onto rimmed baking sheet and cool slightly.

Line large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Prepare a work area and dust it with flour.

Transfer potatoes to large bowl. Add the flour, toss to coat. Form a well in the center of the potato mixture. Add the egg yolks, salt, and nutmeg. Stir with fork until the mixture is evenly moistened and mixture looks shaggy.

Turn the mixture out onto the lightly floured work surface. Knead dough until it comes together, sprinkling dough with flour very lightly only if dough is sticky. Form dough into ball; divide into 4 pieces. Roll each piece between hands and work surface into 3/4-inch-thick rope. Cut each rope into 3/4-inch pieces. Place gnocchi on prepared baking sheet. Using the tines of a fork or your fingertip, press lightly into each gnocchi, making an indentation in the pasta.

At this point, you can freeze the gnocchi by placing them into the freezer spread out on a baking sheet dusted with flour or lined with wax paper. Once frozen, place the gnocchi in a freezer bag. To cook them, place the frozen gnocchi into simmering water (next step).
Working in batches, cook gnocchi in a large pot of boiling salted water. Continue to simmer gnocchi until cooked through and tender, stirring occasionally, until they rise to the surface. Using a slotted spoon, transfer them to a bowl. Serve with your favorite warm pasta sauce.

Recipe blended and adapted from Elise Bauer's recipe here on Simply Recipes and from the Bon Apètit recipe from February 2010.

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27 Responses to “a personal challenge: potato gnocchi”

  1. 1
    Winnie — May 5, 2010 @ 11:18 pm

    Your gnocchi are lovely!

  2. 2
    Bibi — May 6, 2010 @ 1:47 am

    They look pretty.

    I never made Gnocchi myself, but I love when my hubs makes them. He’s the Italian the the family and his grandma’s recipe is the best. Too bad he makes them only few times a year.

    Congrats on finishing your first challenge.

  3. 3
    Julia — May 6, 2010 @ 5:04 am

    I married Pete based on a really good gnocchi recipe. The summer before I met him, my friend and I traveled to Europe and discovered gnocchi. We ate it everywhere. Then I came back – no gnocchi. (I was not much of a cook). Then I met Pete and he made gnocchi for me and all of my friends. I had no idea that he was using this delicious soft potato pasta to break down my guard but it was VERY effective. Now that I thnk about – no gnocchi since. I made giada’s sweet potato gnocci at Thanksgiving – not so great. Need the real stuff. I’ll have to get Pete to make me some. Use the pregnancy to my advantage, much like he used the gnocchi to his.

  4. 4
    Sara — May 6, 2010 @ 9:07 am

    Great Recipe! You have inspired me to make Gnocchi at home!

  5. 5
    Jennie — May 6, 2010 @ 9:54 am

    You’re too kind, and those gnocchi up there look absolutely lovely.

  6. 6
    SMITH BITES — May 6, 2010 @ 10:58 am

    Potatoes . . . happy sigh . . . never met one I didn’t absolutely fall head-over-heels in love with! So proud of you MJ, setting goals and ACHIEVING them – AND that even though being in the kitchen doesn’t come easily, you keep at it!!! These look absolutely lovely!!

  7. 7
    Jennifer Hess — May 6, 2010 @ 1:11 pm

    Those are just gorgeous!

  8. 8
    merrygourmet — May 6, 2010 @ 1:18 pm

    Aw, thanks everyone! It feels good to finally accomplish a long-overdue task, especially when it comes out so tasty. Now I’m geared up to make more pasta!

    Julia – Pete definitely needs to get off his rear (0r off his boat) and make some gnocchi for you. And let me know when, because I’m inviting myself over for dinner.

    Sara – Go for it!

    Jennie – Thanks so much. Seriously, you are my pasta idol.

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  10. 9
    Liren — May 6, 2010 @ 2:28 pm

    Wow, what beautiful little gnocchi! I’ve never attempted gnocchi before – always seemed intimidating, but you’ve broken it down so nicely. I’ll have to try one day, it looks like a very gratifying kitchen experience 🙂

  11. 10
    JulieD — May 6, 2010 @ 3:50 pm

    I really want to try these now…thanks!

  12. 11
    Emily Martin — May 7, 2010 @ 8:51 am

    Wow, I thought I was the only one intimidated by gnocchi.Thanks so much for this post, I’ve been trying to work up the confidence to give them another try and it looks like I’ve found the right recipe!
    Thanks for the step-by-step pics too, VERY helpful.

  13. 12
    Peggy — May 7, 2010 @ 10:28 am

    The gnocchi look gorgeous! Job well done!

  14. 13
    wendy — May 7, 2010 @ 10:33 am

    Nice fork marks! You may find this hard to believe, but I used to teach 35 seven year olds at a time to make gnocchi when I ran summer camps. I never found out if they tasted good or not because the kids would take them home to cook later. That was the beauty of it, if they tasted bad the parents wouldn’t blame the camp, they’d just say, ‘eh, a 7 year old made it’. Bizarrely, i’m personally afraid of making them like you were. I’ve never actually made them myself!

  15. 14
    Karen — May 7, 2010 @ 10:35 am

    These look great! I’m in the same boat you were… kind of intimidated by making gnocci! One of these days I’ll give it a try 🙂

  16. 15
    Shirley — May 7, 2010 @ 12:35 pm

    These look pro and you made the Foodbuzz Top 9! Wouldn’t have guessed you were nervous about making them.

  17. 16
    Joy — May 7, 2010 @ 3:17 pm

    They look so professional. Last time I tried to make it, it didn’t even resemble a gnocchi.

  18. 17
    Janelle — May 7, 2010 @ 4:07 pm

    Well, you my dear, are my gnocchi hero! Beautiful, beautiful… keep on, girlfriend!

  19. 18

    I have not taken on a challenge like this yet. Maybe I will. I like your recipe.

  20. 19

    Potato gnocchi are also on my list of things to tackle. Thanks for posting this – you make it seem entirely do-able!

  21. 20
    Amy @ Ess Eppis — May 9, 2010 @ 3:26 pm

    The first time I made gnocchi was to make them for Passover, so I could not use flour. Using the combo of potato starch & cake meal with the potatoes made them so light and fluffy – like lil pillows of yumminess. Not wanting to mess with success, I now never use flour to make gnocchis.


  22. 21
    Susan — May 9, 2010 @ 9:34 pm

    My husband is Italian and the cook of the family. He makes gnocchi with our left over mashed potatoes. They taste delicious and it’s a great way to use up left overs! In the fall he makes pumkin gnocchi in a sage butter sauce. yummy!

  23. 22
    Sasha — June 6, 2010 @ 12:49 pm

    Great post.
    Gnocchi is a challenge for me too. I’ve made them a few times but my attempts have been more unsuccessful than not. Maybe it’s because I don’t use a ricer : /
    I’ll keep trying.

  24. 23
    Lisa McBrayer — September 2, 2010 @ 3:59 pm

    Gnocchi is a personal challenge that I too want to try. Yours look great! Even better, you said they tasted pretty darn good. You’ve given me inspiration; next week: gnocchi!

    • 23.1
      merrygourmet — September 2, 2010 @ 4:13 pm

      Lisa – You can do it!

  25. 24
    Brenda — September 14, 2010 @ 12:00 pm

    This is something I’ve been wanting to try. I have a number of recipes saved, but haven’t mustered up the courage to give it a go yet. So I’m glad to see you lived through it, and it looks great! I WILL make gnocchi yet!!

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