Light, small dumplings made from semolina or wheat flour, potatoes or ricotta cheese; we're talking about Gnocchi (nok-ki). Tracing back their history to ancient Roman times, gnocchi is a popular dish, not only in Italy, but in coastal Croatia as well. The making of it is similiar to pasta making; simple ingredients of a "flour" whether a ground grain or potatoes, egg and salt. Some recipes can be quite inventive, inducing cheese, sweet potatoes, or a vegetable such as spinach into the mix.
If you're pasta making challenged like myself, there are many brands of gnocchi available on the market such as DaVinci, Colavita and Don Peppe. Sold in one pound packets, prices can vary from 4 to 8 dollars depending on the type of market you're buying from.
2 lbs potatoes (not baking potatoes)
1 ½ cups flour plus additional for rolling
1 tsp salt
Boil the potatoes in hot salted water until fork tender. Let cool before removing skins; put through a ricer or grater into a large mixing bowl. Add 1 ½ cups flour, egg and salt and knead together until a ball forms.
On a floured board, cut dough into 6 portions; roll out each portion to a ¾ inch diameter. Cut the rolls into one inch pieces; use a fork to roll each piece.
The best way to prepare gnocchi is by finishing them off directly in the sauce you're serving them with. They will pick up all the flavors of the sauce, so you won't be overwhelmed with just a flour or potato flavor for the entire dish.
Tonight's dinner was gnocchi in a sauce of browned butter, white wine and shallots. Shallots are basically "onion candy"; a delicate scent and sweet taste that will make you smile with delight, not cry your eyes out in pain.
4 Tbsp salted butter
2 large shallots, diced
¼ cup white wine
Freshly ground black pepper
In a large skillet, melt butter on medium heat; add shallots and stir occasionally to make sure butter and shallots are not sticking or burning. At same time, bring a large pot of water with salt to boil.
Remove skillet from stovetop and add wine; set skillet back on stove. Add gnocchi to boiling water; gnocchi will be ready when they float to the top; about 3-4 minutes. At the same time, the alcohol from the wine will burn off and the butter will begin turning brown. Strain the gnocchi and add directly to the skillet; let cook for 3 minutes, turning the gnocchi once in the sauce.
Plate and top with freshly ground black pepper.
Makes 4-6 servings.