I'm a big fan of the ol’ spud whether it be roasted, fried or mashed, but at the throne of all potato recipes sits the mighty gnocchi combining my love for mashed potatoes and fresh pasta into one heavenly creation. And if fresh pasta might seem a little daunting, gnocchi is the perfect gateway starch to get you going.
One of my first feature pieces I tested when I worked at Saveur Magazine was a deep dive of gnocchi by chef Jenn Louis. I had to make many dozens of batches of her gnocchi recipes, which at the time was torture. It honestly took me about a year to be able to eat a bowl of the stuff again after having it for dinner two weeks straight. However, it gave me a feel for a perfect, pillowy gnocchi dough that’s now like second nature. The two biggest issues I learned, when it comes to making this dish from scratch, are adding too much flour and not kneading the dough enough. You’re looking for soft gnocchi, not toothsome pucks, so you’re going to need less flour than you think. The sorcery comes by properly kneading it to ensure there is a sturdy gluten structure to hold each piece together.
While you can definitely roll out these starchy superstars and cook just as is, I’m all about the gnocchi board, which creates a gorgeous indent when each gnocchi is pressed against it. But looks aren’t everything! The indents help each piece pick up any sauce you choose, though in this recipe I keep it simple with sautéed mushrooms and spinach with tons of Parm and a healthy dose of butter. Don’t have a board? Roll each gnocchi against the back of the fork to make it work!
Go ahead and pop a couple of russets in the oven, it’s time for a little Starch Madness!
Prep time 20 minutes
Cook time 80 minutes
Yield: Serves or Makes 6
Preheat oven to 400°F. Place potatoes on a sheet pan and roast until tender when pierced with a paring knife, 60-75 minutes. Once cool enough to handle, peel and rice potatoes into a large bowl.
To the potatoes, add the flour, salt and egg and knead with your hands into a smooth dough, about 4 minutes. Cover and let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes. Divide into 6 pieces and roll each into a ¾-inch thick rope, then cut each into ¾-inch pieces. Dust with flour as needed to prevent sticking. (If desired, roll each gnocchi against a gnocchi board or back of a fork to indent.)
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and cook until softened, 6-8 minutes. Season with salt, then add thyme and garlic and continue to cook until golden brown, another 5 minutes. Add spinach to pan and stir until wilted, 2 minutes. Season and keep warm.
Add gnocchi to boiling water and cook until floating and tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Using a large spider strainer, transfer gnocchi to mushroom mixture add remaining 2 tablespoons butter and Parmesan, then toss to coat. Divide between bowls and serve.