The Seasoned Franciscan - Cooking Joyfully

Italian Gnocchi - Potato Dumplings

By Mary DiUlio Lopez and America's Test Kitchen on Sunday, October 8th 2023

Ingredients:  (Makes 2 generous servings!)
2 medium potatoes, washed (14 oz)
1 tsp salt
1 egg, whisked
1 – 1 1/2 C all-purpose flour
grated Parmesan cheese

1.Cook potatoes in boiling water to cover for 25 – 30 minutes or until tender.  Don't overcook, because their skins will break open and the flesh will soak up water.  OR bake potatoes until just tender, about 45-60 minutes in a preheated 350 degree oven.
2.Peel potatoes with a paring knife when they are just cool enough to handle. 
3. Use a ricer to “rice” potatoes OR a masher or mixer to mash them when they are still steaming hot.  Mash until lumps are removed.  Spread potatoes out on the bottom of a large bowl or on a clean floured counter to cool and let steam escape.
4. Add egg and salt to the top of potatoes.  Mix with a fork, a dough scraper or by hand.  
5. Add 1 C of the flour to the bowl or place flour on a large clean counter, if using.  
6. Slowly mix potatoes, egg mixture and flour to make a moderately stiff dough.  Use a fork or dough scraper and then your floured hands.  Add more flour, only if needed.   Too much flour and too much handling will make the gnocchi hard.
7. Knead for 4-5 minutes to the consistency of play dough, but still soft to the touch.  Cut dough into smaller pieces.  Use a floured surface and with generously floured hands, shape dough into long snakes 3/4" in diameter.  Cut each “snake“ into ¾” inch pieces.  
8. Make a dimple in center of each piece with floured finger.   Some people roll each gnocchi on the tines of a fork to create ridges that will hold sauce.   But, I find that the "dimples" work just fine!
9. In a large pot, bring a large amount of salted water to a boil.   Shake off excess flour as you place gnocchi in boiling water a handful at a time.  (The gnocchi must be cooked or frozen right away or they may become "mushy" in texture.)
10. Cook for 2-3 minutes until they float.  Drain and return to pot.  Cover with red sauce/gravy or butter sage sauce and grated cheese.  Serve immediately.

To Freeze:   Put the gnocchi on a lightly floured tray and put the tray with the gnocchi on them right into the freezer. When they are solid, scrape them into a resealable plastic bag.

Easy and Quick Gnocchi  (From America's Test Kitchen

Ingredients:   (Makes 2 generous servings!)
2 C plain instant mashed potato flakes
1 C all-purpose flour
2 tsp table salt
1 ½ C water
1 large egg
grated Parmesan cheese

Whisk together the potato flakes, flour and salt in a large bowl.
Whisk water and egg together in separate bowl.  
Add water mixture to potato flake mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until fully combined and mixture forms dough ball.  
Let sit for 3 minutes for potato flakes and flour to absorb the moisture.
Continue with steps 7-10 above and enjoy!

Red “Gravy Recipe:  Our NaNa always called her tomato sauce “gravy”.  Apparently a lot of Italian Americans do as well.  
Open 1 can each of Tomato Paste (6 oz), Tomato Sauce (14 oz) and Tomato Puree (28 oz.) and place contents in a large pot.  Fill each empty can with warm water and add to the pot, scraping the cans as clean as possible.  Add seasonings to your taste:  ½ tsp garlic powder, 1 – 2 bay leaves, 1 tsp salt, ½ tsp pepper, 1 tsp dried basil, ½ tsp dried oregano.  Stir and cook uncovered over medium low heat for 2 – 4 hours!  Stir occasionally throughout cooking and add water, if gravy is getting too thick or begins to stick.  Options include:  diced onions, carrots, green pepper, small amount of sugar, leftover cooked meat, sausage or meatballs toward the end of cooking. 

For another easy sauce, see America's Test Kitchen "Quick" Gnocchi video that uses canned sauce and a few additions to make the dish pictured above!

Butter Herb Sauce Recipe:  Melt 4 T butter in a skillet over medium heat. Stir in 1 clove minced garlic and cook until softened and golden brown, about 4 minutes. Stir in 1 tsp dried sage or basil and ¼ tsp salt. Add cooked gnocchi, 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, and ¼ tsp pepper; toss gently to combine.

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How do we honor our ancestors?   Photos, practices, motherisms, stories?   Foods can also say mia familia (my family) to us.  This recipe for Italian Gnocchi represents strength, values and flavors from my Grandmothers.   As kids, we helped to "dimple" the gnocchi and ate our fair share!  Years later, I discovered that Nana often used the quick recipe with instant potatoes to save time.  Who knew?  She passed down her "ricer" to me and it still works.  What food recipe memories might you share from your family and culture?

  Mexican culture honors ancestors with great ritual (and food) on the Dies de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead.  They believe that it is wrong to forget relatives who have passed from this world, making great efforts to remember.  We see this in the Disney movie "Coco".  Do people die a final death when no one remembers them?  That is what is so wonderful about keeping a necrology,  a record of the dates on which our loved ones and saints died, their death anniversaries.  You will hear these prayers at each St. Rose Convent Mass.

  Some far eastern cultures honor ancestors by placing food at ancestor altars and make an effort to grieve well to heal themselves and also heal those in the next world.

  Jews remember God’s saving love at a meal and recall their Passover from certain death to freedom.  Each food served represents part of the salvation story.  Jesus at this memorial meal offered himself, Body and Blood, Bread and Wine and said “Take and Eat." "This is Me.” "Do this and remember Me!”

What foods or other actions lead you into a communion with loved ones?  We can prepare meaningful dishes, speak or write the names of loved ones, remember and reconnect in communion with them.  Food and other practices can help family members, especially kids, become interested in their family tree and their heritage, both genetic and spiritual.


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