Gnocchi aren’t really difficult to make once you know the rules. Until then they can be mysterious and tricky, sometimes tough, sometimes falling to pieces in the water as they cook and sometimes turning out perfectly. I had a number of failures until I spoke to my Italian neighbour 15 years ago.
The good news is that there are only three rules that apply to any gnocchi, whether you are making them with potato, pumpkin or sweet potato.
- use a floury vegetable (potatoes really are the best as they require the least flour)
- use the minimum amount of flour you can get away with
- don’t knead them any more than is needed to just incorporate the flour.
For potatoes this means using a steamed floury variety and for pumpkin and sweet potato roasting them to keep them fairly dry. Minimal handling is necessary because otherwise kneading and overworking the dough will activate the gluten which will make the gnocchi tough.
Sadly, the bad news is that it is very difficult to convey in words just how to know when you have added enough flour. The only way is by feel and experience. I was told by my neighbour that the dough should feel like an earlobe.
Along the way you’ll possibly have some failures, but once you get it right, it is easy to whip up a batch on autopilot in very little time.
In my garden, the pumpkins are starting to be in season and the tomatoes are coming to an end so I decided to make some pumpkin gnocchi for dinner. I served them with a tomato, garlic and chilli sauce with a little grated Vegusto Piquant cheese.
- 220 grams of roasted pumpkin flesh
- 1 cup of plain flour
- a pinch of salt
- Combine the pumpkin, salt and about ¾ cup of flour.
- Turn out on to a bench and make into a ball with as much of the flour as needed, Use just enough.
- Divide dough into 3 pieces.
- Roll the dough into 2cm sausages
- Cut the sausages into 2 cm lengths
- Cook in boiling water until the gnocchi float to the surface.
- Allow them to cook for 30 secs more and scoop out and drop into your sauce.