By Donna Ross
Gnocchi are something I never make intentionally, and only think of when I have leftover boiled potatoes. So this week, I boiled too many potatoes when making a roast dinner with express purpose of having enough leftover to make a full batch of gnocchi so I could bag some up for the freezer. They’re really, really simple to make – I daresay you could even draft some willing children in to do most of the work - and both freeze and cook from frozen beautifully.
600g cooled boiled potatoes
200g plain flour
1 -2 eggs beaten
1) If you have a potato ricer or vegetable mill now is the time to dig it out. If not a masher is just fine. Peel the skin off the potatoes and mash or push through the mill or ricer to get a pile of fluffy potato. Stir through the flour and season well. Tip onto a clean work surface or large chopping board.
2) Make a well in the middle and add a beaten egg, and gradually mix in the dry ingredients. If the mixture feels too dry, add another egg, a little at a time until it comes together in a stiff dough. Give the dough a quick knead to make sure everything is mixed together thoroughly.
Break off cricket-ball sized pieces of dough and roll out into a long sausage, about 2cm thick. Using a normal table knife, cut off pieces of dough about 2 cm long, and use your finger to make an indentation in each one.
3) If you’re cooking them to eat immediately, place in a single layer on a board or plate. If you’re freezing them, place in a single layer on a baking tray that will fit in your freezer.
4) Keep going until you’ve used all the dough up. It doesn’t matter if they’re not perfect. As long as they’re roughly the same size, they’ll cook in the same amount of time.
5)To freeze, place the trays in the freezer making sure they’re not stuck to each other or anything else. When frozen, bag them in freezer bags and you can cook as many as you need later.
6) To cook from fresh or frozen, bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Have a slotted spoon on hand, and carefully drop in the gnocchi (I usually serve about 10 per person). They shouldn’t stick together while cooking so you can cook at least two portions at a time. When they float they’re ready, so fish them out with a slotted spoon into a warmed dish and toss in a little oil to stop them sticking to one another. If you’re cooking more than two portions, keep the cooked ones warm in a low oven. Frozen gnocchi will just take a little bit longer to cook than fresh.
Serving ideas: gnocchi are great with many pasta sauces, the following are some of my favourites.
- tomato sauce with greens, kale or spinach
- cheat’s cheese sauce: cheese melted into crème fraiche
- butter, garlic and soft herbs: chives, basil, tarragon and sage are all good, or a mix
- Bolognese sauce