I’ve always wanted to try my hand at homemade pasta. It always seems to show up as a challenge in cooking competition shows (my number 1 semi-guilty pleasure), and it seems like the perfect mix of daunting and rewarding. What better time to give it a go than on a day that looked like this?:
I decided on gnocchi because I don’t have any sort of pasta roller and because if I had it my way the key food groups would be potatoes, pasta, coffee, and cheese, and this hit 3 out of the 4 of them. One of my favourite food blogs, Smitten Kitchen, suggested using a regular grater in lieu of a potato ricer, which turned out to be useful advice given that my sister took the potato ricer with her to college.
I’ve had gnocchi before that was very dense or doughy, but I was very pleased by the way these turned out. I chose to make a butter sauce using thyme rather than a marinara or pomodoro tomato sauce so that I could cook the gnocchi in a pan after boiling them for a little bit of texture and crunch. They could’ve been a bit prettier – I’ll have to work on those fork-ridges – but of course, it’s the taste that really matters.
The weather’s meant to be back to warm and sunny tomorrow, but I’ll definitely be trying to make fresh pasta again the next bad-weather day.
Potato gnocchi with butter-thyme sauce
For the gnocchi:
1.5 lbs potatoes
1 tsp salt
1 cup flour
- Bake your potatoes. I used 6 small-medium potatoes to make plenty of gnocchi for 3 people, baked for 40 minutes at about 425°F. Basically, cook them for long enough that you can poke a fork into them, but not quite soft enough that you’d take one out and eat it as it is.
- Peel the potatoes. The skin should be pretty soft, but use a knife to help if you need it. Also a tea-towel to hold them; they will be hot! After the potatoes are peeled, grate them as small as possible. If bits of the potato start to feel gummy, discard those pieces.
- Pile the grated potatoes into a mound on the counter and add the salt. Then, make a hole in the middle and crack the egg into it. The typical pasta-making move you always see in cooking shows! Start mixing the potatoes and egg together lightly with your hands until it starts to form into a dough.
- Add flour a little at a time and knead until the dough is no longer sticky and is the consistency you’d expect of a dough – light, not overworked. Most of the recipes I looked at called for 2 or even more cups of flour; I found 1 to be more than enough.
- Split the dough into 3 or 4 sections, whatever you think is manageable, and roll it out into ropes about 1 inch thick. Then, cut the dough into 1 inch pieces. If you want the ridges that are traditional to gnocchi, press them in with a fork.
- You can cook the gnocchi now or freeze them for later. To cook, drop them in a pot of salted, boiling water for 1-2 minutes or until the gnocchi have all risen to the top of the water. Scoop them out with a slotted spoon and put them in the saucepan (see below for sauce recipe) and cook until golden brown. Serve hot.
For the sauce:
4 tbsp butter
2 tsp thyme leaves
Juice of 1 thick slice of lemon
1/4 cup grated parmesan
Salt/pepper to taste
- Heat the butter on medium heat in a non-stick saucepan and, when hot, add the thyme. I only had dried thyme but fresh would probably be even better.
- As our house’s stove has been broken for a while, we only have one burner, I took my sauce off the heat at this time and added the lemon juice. If you have a normal working stove, keep the sauce going on low heat while you add the lemon.
- Once you’ve added the gnocchi to the pan, turn the heat back up to medium, stir the gnocchi in until all the pasta is coated with sauce, and cook until the gnocchi are slightly toasted looking and golden brown. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Just before serving, add your parmesan cheese and give it a stir so it starts to melt evenly on the pasta. Serve gnocchi and sauce hot immediately. Enjoy!
P.s. Remember to take off your jewellery before making the dough. I always forget about my Claddagh ring until it’s already covered!