When it comes to fresh pasta I have no doubt that the one you make at home is way better than anything you can buy in a store. And despite what most people think, it’s quite an easy thing to do. This is the first of a series of recipes about fresh pasta and we will start with GNOCCHI (potato gnocchi to be precise) which by the way is pronounced [ˈɲɔkki] (here’s a You Tube clip, just in case). Gnocchi are easy to make for a simple “chemical” reason: to make the dough, the flour is not mixed with water, therefore gluten doesn’t form. Now gluten is what makes any flour+water dough become elastic and hard to handle when you knead it, so with gnocchi everything is a lot simpler.
Potato gnocchi are essentially made with potatoes and wheat flour, but this is only the start – one can experiment with all kinds of flours and other ingredients, add eggs or some veggies to do a “colored” version (spinach seems to be very popular). I prefere the simple potatoes+flour version better because I like to feel the potato taste. If for example you would use eggs also, you will have to add a lot more flour to reach a good consistency, and the potato taste would be lost. Sad.
You can really use all kinds of potatoes: yellow, white, firm, floury etc. And the amount of flour needed may vary a lot for a number of reasons: type of potatoes used, for how long they are boiled, even how old they are! So you can see that the recipe is not much of a precise one really, but still it’s very easy and fun to do.
For this particular recipe I’m doing the gnocchi in my favourite way. They’re called Gnocchi alla Sorrentina, as they originate from the beautiful town of Sorrento in Italy, about 45 minutes from my hometown (you’re welcome to visit!).