My mother always announced like that each time she decided to make gnocchi, and the day was special at the prospect of having gnocchi for lunch.
Homemade gnocchi need a lot of TLC, but they are not at all difficult to do. At the end they make a simple day into a special one.
How to Make Outstanding Gnocchi
While pasta has a precise and well defined form, gnocchi have an extremely varied aspect. Gnocchi are prepared with potatoes but also with pumpkin, spinaches, or by adding other ingredients. Gorgonzola cheese for example, which can be added to the mix, or after they are cooked, as dressing.
The Classic Potato Gnocchi
Depending on the method used to prepare (and the care used), potato Gnocchi may be highly delicate or firm and compact. The primary secret is always using a light touch and not working too much the potatoes once they are crushed. In practice, the dough should be worked exclusively with the fingers to obtain a perfect compound.
1 Kg Patate (Yukon Gold are suitable, old is better than new ones)
250 Gr flower 00
Put the potatoes in cold salted water, bring to boil and cook them until tender. Crushed through a ricer to a surface sprinkled with flower.
Let them cool. In a small bowl, mix the flour with the salt. Add the egg, and nutmeg to the potatoes and then add the flour mixture. At this point I do add a bit of cinnamon. I learned this from my grandmother, and I never found any recipe that calls for this ingredient. But they are good, but this is totally optional.
Mix with your hands until the flour is moistened and the dough starts to clump together; the dough will still be a bit crumbly at this point.
Work the dough, and rotate it for about 5 minutes until it is smooth, elastic and homogeneous.
Make a roll of 20 – 25 cm and cut it into six pieces, covering it all with the plastic wrap.
Take a piece of dough and, gently, roll it back & forth to form a cylinder of 50 cm long and width as much as a finger.
Keep the flour handy, and repeat the operation with the other pieces of pasta, sprinkle with flower as needed.
Cut the cylinders in little pieces of 3 cm. Then give the gnocchi the typical shape by rolling each one with your thumb against the rebs of a fork, or using the special wooden tablet.
This shape is important for the gnocchi to grab the sauce.
Place the gnocchi in one layer on a tray so they don’t stick together.
Cover them with plastic wrap and keep them in the refrigerator until it is time to cook them.
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Best if rather larger than tall. That way it will be easier to scoop them up when ready.
When the water boils drop the gnocchi into the water, delicately a few at a time. Scoop them up as soon as they surface. It will take just a few minutes.
Place the drained gnocchi in a large bowl with the sauce of choice and mix gently prior serving.
Gnocchi can be served with a simple marinara sauce, or with butter and sage, but also with sautéed mushrooms, or pesto, even with the famous Ragú Bolognese.
Though my favorite ones are with the butter, sage, or simple tomato sauce and Parmesan of course.