The final recipe my dad and I made at the Mediterranean cooking class at the Culinary Institute of Virginia.  I had no idea gnochho (pronounced nee-oh-key) was so simple to make.  Note I said simple, not easy.  It definitely takes some practice.  But this was soooo good!

Other recipes from the class:  

Braised Carrots

Persian Green Beans and Rice

Serves 4

Ingredients

For the gnocchi:

About 3-4 fist-sized potatoes (the starchier the better)

2 Tbsp. kosher salt

2 cups all-purpose flour

Note:  for the purposes of this class, Chef Tony had us make totally plain gnocchi so we could balance the sauce with it.  However, a great technique he recommends is incorporating your spices and herbs – your flavor – in the gnocchi mixture rather than just the sauce.  Good spices to use would be nutmeg, sage, cloves, cayenne, curry, thyme, tarragon, or rosemary.

For the sauce:

1 stalk celery, chopped

1 whole carrot, chopped

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1-2 chopped Roma tomatoes

4 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1 tsp. fresh thyme (could also use 1/2 tsp. curry and 1/2 tsp. dried thyme)

For extra flavor, add brown sugar, curry, nutmeg, cinnamon, and 1 Tbsp. butter.

Directions

For the gnocchi:

  1. Boil the unpeeled potatoes in salt water for 20 minutes.  Drain, peel, cut into large pieces, and mash.  Leave to cool slowly.  Tip:  To mash, you can use a hand masher, a potato mill, or an electric mixer, but Chef Tony advises against using a blender because too much air will be incorporated into it and it will be too fluffy to make good gnocchi.  What we did in the class was use a mill, which was hard to handle with one hand while turning the handle with the other and the grinder part didn’t catch the potatoes well.  Hand mashing would have been easier, but the easiest would be to throw the potato pieces in an electric mixer and then slowly pour the flour and spices in.  When the whole thing clumps together and whomps around the mixing bowl, it’s ready to make into gnocchi.

  2. To do it by hand, sprinkle some flour over the work surface.  Knead the lukewarm potato with about 1 3/4 cups flour, until it no longer sticks to your fingers.

  3. Divide the potato dough into portions, rolling each one into a long, thin tube, about a finger’s width in diameter.  Cut into pieces about 3/4 inch in length.

  4. Gnocchi traditionally have ridges cut into them for the sauce to cling to.  Very clever but this takes some finesse.  We used an actual paddle-type thing with about 10 ridges and we rolled each cut piece down it so it had ridges all around it.  If you don’t have that, just use a fork but VERY gently, or the fork will cut too deeply into the soft potato dough and the dough will get caught in the fork tines.  Roll the fork from base of tines to tip, leaving rings around the gnocchi.

  5. In a large saucepan, bring some salted water to boil.  Cook the gnocchi in the boiling water until they rise to the surface, then remove with a slotted spoon and place in a colander or sieve to let the last bit of water drain.  (Note:  the gnocchi will dry and stick, but carefully stirring it with the sauce will break them up again.)

For the sauce:

  1. Clean the celery and carrot, then slice.

  2. Peel the onion and garlic and chop finely.

  3. Quarter the tomatoes or chop them up into larger pieces than the carrots and celery.

  4. Put the oil in a pan, add the vegetables, season with salt and pepper, and cook over heat for 25 minutes.

  5. Optional:  Puree cooked vegetables and transfer to a large pan with the gnocchi and a few thyme leaves.  Stir well and bring to a boil.  (We just left the sauce chunky the way we chopped the ingredients and poured it over the gnocchi.  We like it better that way.)

  6. Serve with grated cheese.