I only started making my own homemade gnocchi this year (*blush*)… For some reason, I assumed it would be very time consuming, complicated and messy?! Not the case. Quick, easy and only slightly messy – and the mess is the fun part!
I have now made (various versions of) this dish at least 10 times over the summer. The kids LOVE to eat it – and even more special is that they also love to MAKE it! It’s so easy – and FUN since rolling the little potato balls is essentially like playing with ‘play dough’ to them. We have even experimented with different coloured gnocchi by adding pureed greens or sweet potato.
Making these little dumplings is a great forearm workout too 😉 I recommend making a double batch, for a larger portion (enough for 4+ servings) – or so that you can freeze some and have fresh homemade gnocchi ready to go in minutes!
Blender-full/Approx. 7 cups of Raw potatoes (skins on for added nutritional value), chopped into large chunks
Water (about 1 cup so the potatoes are blended easily)
1 tsp sea salt
Optional: 1 Tbsp starch (I like arrowroot or tapioca, but have even used chickpea flour)
Optional: 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
Optional: Pureed steamed greens, sweet potato, herbs
Fill a high-powered blender or food processor (about 7 cups) with potato chunks, chopped into 1” cubes. I like to leave the skins on the potatoes for added nutritional value (… and because it’s easier and faster!). I tried making this recipe with boiled potatoes and did not like the result – a bit of a sloppy mess, requiring extra binding ingredients and filler. So I leave the potatoes raw.
Add some water to the blender for easy mixing – the quantity doesn’t really matter as you will ultimately be squeezing it all out again after blending; however, I generally add about 1 cup of water.
Thoroughly blend the water and potatoes till smooth (this step takes less than 60 seconds in a Vitamix blender).
Place a clean tea towel over a large bowl and pour some of the mixture in (I tend to split a single blender-full into 3 or 4 portions for easier grip)…
Now, get ready for a killer hand and forearm workout! Pull up the corners of the tea towel and hold it over a bowl. It’s time to squeeze all that water out – and I mean squeeeeeeeeze. And then? Squeeze some more.
You should be left with dry crumbly potato pulp.
And it should be pretty dry and crumbly – not goopy at all. If it is not crumbly, get back to work.
Empty the crumbly potato pulp into a clean bowl (you should be able to literally shake most of the pulp off the tea towel) and repeat the squeezing process with the remaining sloppy potato-water mixture.
Here, before rinsing out the blender, I like to immediately blend up a second batch, since….
7 cups of potato chunks (+ 1 cup water) yields just 1 cup of potato pulp (to be rolled into gnocchi) + 3 cups starchy water (to be discarded)
1 batch = 1 dirty blender + 1 starchy tea towel
2 batches = 1 dirty blender + 1 starchy tea towel
Basically, you’re going to have a dirty blender and tea towel in the end, so why not get some extra gnocchi???
Once you’ve transformed all the sloppy potato-water mixture into a bowl of crumbly potato pulp, you can roll it into bite-sized balls as-is, or incorporate any optional add-ins: sea salt (because salt makes everything good), starch (to soak up any left-over moisture) and lemon juice (an acidifier*) – plus any optional purees or herbs, as desired. Just keep in mind that you want to keep the mixture fairly dry and you only need a small amount of pureed spinach (about 3 Tbsp or so) to get a nice subtle green tint to your gnocchi (though, to be honest, the colour difference will not be noticeable once cooked…). The lemon juice isn’t necessary, but apparently, it can help minimize the natural ‘discolouration’ of the potato pulp. Since I leave my potato skins on and often use red-skinned potatoes, my gnocchi does not look like the bleached white gnocchi you buy on a store shelf (even when using white potatoes).
[*If you read the long list of ingredients on a package of grocery store gnocchi, you will usually see ‘acidifier’ as an ingredient. I’m not sure what that entails, but plain old lemon juice does the trick in this recipe.]
Now it’s time to rest your hands – here is the fun part… rolling the balls!!! Better yet, get the kids to do this part. I like to delegate one to be the “roller” (rolling the mixture into bite-sized balls) and one to be the “squisher” (lightly pressing a fork along one edge each ball). The “squisher” is an optional job – I had read that the purpose of this step is to help the chosen sauce to stick to the balls… ?! Whatever – they look cute and the kids enjoy it!
And that is homemade gnocchi – literally balls of potato puree and nothing else.
To prepare them for a meal, you can boil them right away or place them in a flat dish, spaced apart so they don’t clump together. I have kept them raw in the fridge for a few days or in the freezer for about two weeks. Whether from fresh or frozen, to cook, simply boil a large pot of water, add gnocchi balls, stirring gently so they don’t clump together. I like to boil them in small batches (about 8-10 balls at a time, depending on the size of your pot) – again, so they are less likely to get stuck together. They only need to cook for a few minutes; once floating at the surface, scoop out cooked gnocchi and they are ready to toss with your favourite sauce and/or veggies.
Gnocchi is great with any sauce (tomato, pesto, cashew cream) but here is our family favourite (super quick and no ‘sauce’ required), originating from my mom <3