Oct 24, 2010

Gnocchi from scratch

You have to be patient.

Making gnocchi takes practice and persistance. At their best potato gnocchi can be delicate. At their worst, they turn ot dense, rubbery, or soggy. In the worst case scenario, the gnocchi fall apart in the boiling water before even meeting their condiment. I'm not trying to scare you off from making them, I just want you to know what you're in for. The trick is using a small quantity of egg to hold the potato/flour mixture together.

1 kg (2.2 lbs) russet potatoes
300 g (1 1/2 cups) all purpose flour
2 egg yolks, beaten
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil

Boil the unpeeled potatoes 30-40 minutes (according to potato size) in lightly salted water, resisting the temptation to pierce them with a fork, this floods the potato structure with boiling water, thus damaging the dough.

Let the potatoes cool a bit then peel and mash them with a hand-powered mill or a ricer, straight into a bowl.

Once completely cool, mix them with the egg yolks and olive oil. Now sift the flour over the potatoes and mix it in with a wooden spoon. Do this with gentle movements, only until the flour is moist and the dough looks crumbly.

Pour the potato/flour mixture over a board dusted with flour and knead briefly as you would any other pasta dough.

Note: Over-kneading may make the dough tougher, so keep it to a minimum to obtain a uniform consistency, considering you'll be also dusting extra flour to prevent the dough from sticking to the work surface.

Cut a fist-size piece and roll it into ropes about 3/4-inch in diameter and use a knife to cut each into 3/4-inch buttons. Use your thumb to make an indentation in each piece. This can be achieved with the help of the back of a cheese grater or the tines of a fork, and it gives gnocchi a rough surface in which the sauce finds refuge. As you produce the gnocchi, moves them on a plate and keep going, fistful after fistful, until all the dough is used up.
Image © Foodnuveau.com
Technically all this can be done in advance, but it is better not to let too much time pass between the making and the cooking. While you're cutting the gnocchi, bring a pot of water to a rolling boil. Once all the gnocchi are ready, toss a dozen of them into the water and wait until they all surface. This takes less than 2 minutes, so it is important that your attention does not wander. Use a skimmer (or a slotted spoon) to fish the floating gnocchi out of the pot and place them in a bowl covered with a tight lid or plastic wrap, so the gnocchi keep warm. Repeat the casting-fishing routine until all gnocchi are cooked.

For a splendid gnocchi tutorial, complete with extra information and a useful video, visit Foodnouveau – Merci, Marie!


  1. SO simple but so delicious. The ingredients seem easy enough, but some how I'm afraid that my gnocchi will fall apart in the water...

  2. Wonderful! I find that the results depend mostly on the type of potatoes: the older and more floury the better (I use Desiree). I spent many a Sunday as a child rolling gnocchi around the tines of a fork for my Nonna :-)

  3. Thanks for the post and info. We tried to make a butternut squash gnocchi last week (recipe from Bon Apetit), and they were just awful. . . . A LOT of work. . . and awful. If we ever muster the courage to try again, I'll look you up. Meanwhile, I'll stick to the local shop that sells them!
    Have a great day!

  4. bellissimi questi gnocchi! non ho mai provato a farli, ma questa spiegazione mi invoglia a farlo.. :) Vieni a fare un salto sul nostro blog se ti va, siamo 3 amiche toscane con la passione per la cucina
    Marzia, Giovanna, Laura di http://whitedarkmilkchocolate.blogspot.com/

  5. not familiar with these...what would i eat them with?

  6. Exactly like my Mother's recipe-

    I recall only once that we made them together. The amazing thing is that I still recall it after all these years.


  7. thanks! i love substituting sweet potatoes :)

  8. copied and filed. i can't wait to make this with my Dad's spagetti sauce!!!


  9. Natalie~
    You have to try, don't be scared!


    Indeed. The potato quality is very important. Older and floury–yes!


    Oh, but you must give it a shot. This is easy, and with so few ingredients!


    Verrò sicuramente, grazie dell'invito! E grazie del tuo gentile commento.


    Like any other pasta, you can dress these in a million ways: tomato sauce; or pesto; or even just sage sautéed in brown butter and a little grated Parmigiano on top!


    That is such a sweet memory!


    I've never tried these with sweet potatoes, I should try it... Thanks!


    Yum, sounds like a perfect match!

    Happy cooking

  10. Ciao! Wonderful post thanks for sharing. I have a question, I'm just curious how you get your a-store full size. I tried putting mine as a page but part of my a-store is cut off. How to you make it full? I just copied & pasted my html code in my page.

    I see you have a link that says "Click here" with the link attached with it. My page doesn't have a link like that, it just goes directly to the page. Am I doing something wrong?

  11. Alessandra~
    thanks for stopping by again.

    There are 3 types of codes you can use to upload your a-store. If you use the plain Html code, you need to do what I did, and that is direct your readers via a hyperlink to another separate page (the actual store).
    If you want to copy it in your Pages link list, you need to use another one, I think option 2. That will only allow you to upload it as a clickable image, and it will not be therefore interactive, like you won't be able to link to its individual sections, categories, etc.
    But I suggest you seek an expert's advice before messing with code.


  12. Ciao! You're welcome! I love your blog!

    Actually what a coincidence after I wrote to you, I then fixed the problem & it's all set up now. hehe I got it after all.

    I do appreciate your help.

    Have a nice day!!

  13. I make gnocchi all the time and tend to make them with ricotta rather then potato because they are lighter. But I have the problem of them falling apart once-in-awhile. My granddaughters prefer the potato gnocchi however. Will give your recipe a try.

  14. Yum yum! It's funny how each country has its own potato/flour mix recipe.
    Here we have potato farls, which are basically the same mixture, but made into flat cakes and fried in loads of butter, with more melted butter on top!
    I'd imagine these would be good with just good butter (lots of!) and Parmigiano?
    They look so sweet!

  15. I'm going to try this recipe. How do you dress them?

  16. Thank you so much Ele for linking to my blog, I'm honored!! If it weren't for you, I wouldn't have been inspired to make my own gnocchi in Rome. Your recipe is perfect and I can't wait to make it again.

  17. Turodolci~
    If you use a little egg (and a pinch of flour) as "glue" even your ricotta ones will never fall apart!


    Oh, my that's a lot of butter!


    You can dress them in a million ways: plain tomato sauce w/ basil; baked in a earthenware terrine with mozzarella (see recipe HERE); with quattro formaggi; al pesto w/ ricotta; or like any other pasta favorite. Mine's brown butter, sage; grated parmigiano and a few white truffle shavings!


    I'm the one whose honored! How was the rest of the trip? ;)

  18. Just called in for some scrumptious Italian nosh and to see my lovely Italian friend and say a warm, "Hello".

    Visit long overdue ~ your Brit ex ambulance man now a minibus driver (LOL), Eddie x

  19. I love Italy- love Roma! And love to eat ialian food!
    Thanks for the wonderful recipes!

  20. They really sound easy! I think we make them as Kartoffelklöße and then bigger and with Schweinebraten and Rotkohl - anyway, I think I will try out your gnocchi!
    Has the letter arrived?

  21. Ciao Eleonora! Love how we're thinking in synch... must be the Amalfi coast connection. :-) I've been contemplating making gnocchi for the first time over the past week, and my Mom and I tackled it last Sunday. We had a blast... and it wasn't all that hard at all. Especially with two people. We did a recipe and process very similar to yours, and made gnocchi alla sorrentina... YUM! Thanks for sharing your input and tips!!

  22. Edoardo!
    What a pleasant surprise to see you back here!! Can't wait to catch up with all your news re the new occupation. Cheers!


    Thanks for your enthusiastic comment!


    I wrote you a long, loving a warm email to announce the arrival and quadruple reading of your wonderful letter!!! Did you not receive it? Why does cyberspace swallow stuff like that sometimes?
    It came last week (it took only 5 days) and I LOVED LOVED LOVED it!


    It must be the Costiera bond indeed! Last year I posted the recipe for Gnocchi alla Sorrentina, and re-reading yours now, I suddenly crave some...
    It's 1 am. Thanks.

  23. I've always wanted to try making gnocchi - I wonder, can one make them without using a gluten free flour - maybe potato or rice flour?

  24. It looks gorgeous, as ever, and rather complicated! One day.. maybe I'll try gnocchi from scratch...

    It is far to close to lunchtime to be looking at your delicious blog, Lola!!

  25. Ha ha, we made gnocchi a while back. First time ever. They most certainly didn't break up. They were MARINES! As in dense and rubbery! We shall not be defeated - we'll follow your recipe as we love gnocchi!

  26. Nicky~
    There's potatoes in there already, the flour is key in keeping the dough together, why not try rice flour?


    So nice to see you back! Oh, come on–give it a try!!


    Ha ha ha that's funny, dense and rubbery like Marines! Please try my recipe and write back with the verdict.

    Happy cooking

  27. You make it sound so easy! I will have to get brave and try this one of these days!

  28. What a great primer on making gnocchi di patate! And I'm glad to see you use a little egg yolk like me. Some people say it's cheating... or that it makes the gnocchi tough. But I actually think it helps keep them light if you do it right, and it gives them such a lovely golden color...

  29. Rosemary~
    It IS easy! All it takes is a little patence and lots of love. Let me know how they turn out, ok?


    Egg yolk in gnocchi dough is definitely not cheating. I tried making them without once and they fell apart completely in the boiling water... also, the potatoes have to be floury and possibly old, do you agree? And yes, I like my gnocchi golden, not pale white.

    Happy gnocchi-ing a tutti!

  30. This is a great recipe, followed step by step carefully and just made the most amazing Gnocchi... highly recommend it!! thank you!