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Musical pairing – Sway by Michael Bublé

Remember this post at the beginning of 2012? The one in which I said I would challenge myself to try and master a few new recipes and/or techniques? I really should have added gnocchi to that list but didn’t – because gnocchi is one of those dishes that appears to be so simple – and it is. But gnocchi is also one of those dishes that terrifies me in its simplicity. Yes, I do understand that I’m talking in circles but it appears that making gnocchi is more about technique than it is about the recipe itself.

I’ve purchased ready-made gnocchi from the grocery store on several occasions; and surprise, surprise, I was sadly disappointed. Dry, mealy and just plain nasty, I cannot, for the life of me, understand the appeal. Yet, if you know me, you know that I am a potato lover . . . as in I am obsessed with all things potato. And really, is there anything better than a dish of light-as-a-cloud bits of potato dressed in an elegant swirl of simple tomato sauce, a bit of freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil? Is your mouth watering? Mine too.

My fear, and I feel so silly even admitting this, was all about the fork . . . the tines on the fork to be exact . . . or a gnocchi ‘roller’ . . . because getting those nice little ‘ridges’ on your gnocchi is paramount to the success of your gnocchi holding all that saucy goodness. I have no idea who ordained this to be fact, but every gnocchi recipe I’ve found, details the proper ‘ridge-making’ technique – some use the tines of a fork, others pull out an official gnocchi roller – a small, wooden plank of sorts, lined with ridges to roll the gnocchi across, thus leaving those little ridges.

My friend Linda recommended Nancy Silverton’s Mozza cookbook as a place to start for pasta-making – but then my eyes landed on Nancy’s gnocchi recipe and – sold. The proper potatoes were purchased, sauce made, fresh eggs gathered, potato ricer dusted off, gnocchi roller out, apron donned and game on!

I think I did pretty well although I believe my gnocchi could be a bit lighter; I’m not quite sure how to achieve this as I really learn best standing side-by-side with someone who can show me the ‘feel’ of the dough – how the texture should feel in my hand, how much weight to each little potato dumpling, are the ridges supposed to encircle the entire gnocchi – that sort of thing.

What I do know is that my first attempt resulted in a recipe that was far superior to anything purchased at the grocery store; and as The Professor and I sat at our table, candles lit, wine poured and music playing in the background, there wasn’t much conversation . . . just a bite or two . . . slurp . . . eyes closed . . . mmmmm . . . another bite . . . slurp . . . I’d call that a small success . . . mark this one off on my ‘Goals for 2012’ list.


  1. I love Nancy Silverton’s recipes! Gnocchi is wonderful, but I don’t eat if often. Seems to me there was vodka in the sauce I made. It’s been a while. Thanks for reminding me what a super dish this is!

  2. I made the version from The French Laundry cookbook and it was wonderful… There’s something so rustic about a big bowl of gnocchi that I just adore.

  3. Hooray! Congratulations on making gnocchi! I know from my recent experience that it really is helpful to have an expert teacher, but you did it!

  4. I bought a gnocchi board awhile ago but still have yet to use it, I need to get on it!

  5. Beautiful post and amazing photos! I remember your to-do list post from the beginning of the year. Most people abandon their New Year’s goals, but you keep adding:) I have to say WELL DONE! Lovely gnocchi!
    I usually make them from leftover mashed potatoes, even though I know it is not the real thing:) I learned how to make the dough and shape them from a Lidia Bastianich recipe, which is very similar to Nancy Silverton’s:)

  6. I had no idea they were supposed to have ridges! The one time I made, it was a ton of work, there were no ridges, I liked it as did my hubby, but the kids most definitely did not 🙁 I’ll have to try this and see what they think of it. btw, Nancy Silverton is awesome. I don’t have Mazzo, but do have her other books and I highly recommend them.

  7. I absolutely love gnocchi and this post has be absolutely craving a big plate. Can you send some? Once you’re more comfortable, they’re so fun to play with.

    You use nearly any vegetable with the potatoes!

  8. You’re the coolest gnocchi maker ever. I’ve never liked it much but maybe I’ve yet to have homemade? Cool.

  9. O Lord, it’s 6:35 in the morning and what do I want NOW? This dish!
    I love the black & white process photos, Deb. If I didn’t know better, I’d say they were taken in the kitchen of an Italian ‘nonna’.
    Buon appetito!!!!!

  10. Ohhh, homemade gnocchi! How wonderful! I love also the amount of sauce I see in this plate 🙂

  11. I’m scared to try gnocchi at home too. My best ever time having it was at a tiny place in west hollywood where they made it in a brown butter crispy sage sauce. Uh-mazing. Maybe I’ll attempt this on a kid free night! Yums!

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