Gnocchi Valentino

Gnocchi Valentino

  • Servings: 4 servings as entrée course (secondo piatto), 6 servings as first course (primo piatto)
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1 pound Idaho or Russet potato (1 big potato), peeled and cut in half
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 large egg
1 tsp table salt (not kosher)

Boil the potato halves for approx. 30 to 40 minutes, until soft to the touch. Strain the potatoes, return them to the pot and cook for an additional 30 to 60 seconds over low heat to cook off any excess water.  Put each half through a food mill or ricer, using the setting with the smallest holes, allowing the potato shavings to fall onto your work surface.

When finished milling, make a well in the center of the potatoes. Sprinkle the well and potatoes lightly with flour.  Break an egg in the center of the well and add salt. Use a fork to stir the egg into the flour and potatoes (as if making pasta).

Once the egg is mixed in, bring the dough together with your hands and mix to combine ingredients, about 1 to 2 minutes, adding flour as needed until a ball is formed. If the dough is sticky, add more flour in small amounts, being careful not to overwork the dough.

Divide the dough into three smaller balls and roll each ball into a ¾” diameter rope (about the size of a nickel). Use a knife or dough cutter to cut the rope into 1-inch long pieces.  When finished cutting, roll each piece off a wooden gnocchi board or fork to create the traditional grooves in the gnocchi.

Drop each dumpling into boiling water and cook until all pieces have floated to the surface, about 1 to 2 minutes.  Use a slotted spoon or strainer to remove gnocchi from the boiling water.  Transfer immediately to a sauté pan or pot and toss with sauce for about 2-3 minutes over medium heat.  Transfer to serving dishes and Buon Appetito!

Keys to Success:

  • Handle the gnocchi as little as possible, more handling = heavy, dense dumplings.
  • Always use a food mill or ricer.
  • The ratio of potato to flour should hover around 2:1. Always use more potato than flour or dumplings will become too thick and heavy.
  • Gnocchi become feather-light by kneading lightly and using only enough flour to bind the dough together. Getting the right “feel” for the dough is essential to making perfect gnocchi. To master the technique, make gnocchi frequently.

Gnocchi Valentino Sauce

Serves: 4 to 6

1 large red bell pepper, roasted, peeled, seeded and torn into ½-inch strips (about 16 to 20)
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 to 3 large garlic cloves, minced
Pinch of crushed red pepper (optional – omit or add more, as desired)
1 28 oz. can whole peeled tomatoes, pureed
¼ cup vodka
1 cup heavy cream
Salt and Pepper to taste

To garnish:
¼ to ½ cup pine nuts, toasted
1 cup parmesan cheese, grated
Fresh basil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place red pepper on a sheet pan and roast in oven for about 40 to 50 minutes, until skin is charred and mostly black. Remove and cool in a paper bag until just able to handle; then, use your hands to remove the skin and seeds. Tear into ½-inch strips and set aside.

Begin the sauce as the pepper is roasting. In a medium sauce pot, heat olive oil over medium-low heat and sauté the garlic for about 3-5 minutes, stirring often and being careful not to brown the garlic. Add crushed red peppers and sauté for another minute.

Add the pureed tomatoes and vodka and cook for about 15 minutes over low-medium heat, then reduce the heat to low and cook for another 15-20 minutes. Stir in the heavy cream. Cover the pot but leave a little room to allow steam to escape. When the sauce coats the back of a spoon, it’s ready to serve.

When serving with gnocchi, prepare the sauce first, then transfer to a larger pot to toss with the gnocchi. . Add the gnocchi and red peppers to the sauce and toss to evenly coat. Transfer gnocchi to a large platter or individual serving bowls and garnish with toasted pine nuts, freshly grated parmesan cheese and fresh basil leaves or strips.

To store: Refrigerate for up to five days.