Every culture has its dumpling and they form an integral part of their peasant cuisine. They are inexpensive to make, hearty, filling and bring home cooked comfort to your palate and your soul. Jewish mazzo ball soup is made with mazzo ball dumplings (kneidlach), Hungarians make their delicious spatzle, grated directly over a pot of boiling water, Chinese have their pot stickers, Ukrainians their perogies and Italians have their gnocchi.
All these little treasures begin with a dough made in different ways, cut into pieces or individually shaped and cooked in boiling water, soup or broth. Some are made with just flour and water, some with specialty flours (mazzo flour for the kneidlach), or filled with cheese, onion, potatoes etc. Gnocchi are made with cooked and riced (mashed) potatoes, to which you add flour, eggs, sometimes cheeses, vegetables and other seasoning.
I am offering a basic master gnocchi recipe made only with potatoes and flour. Once you have cooked it in boiling water, the fun begins and you can finish it in many different ways. From tomato sauce to creamy cheese sauces to a simple Sautee in butter or olive oil and a sprinkling of grated cheese, gnocchi will please your starch cravings every time. You can finish them in the oven under a light blanket of fontina, toss them with butter or olive oil in skillet and drizzle with toasted herbed crumbs, cover them with a light goat cheese sauce a more assertive sauce made with gorgonzola and cream. Add texture by adding chopped roasted nuts, crisp prosciutto or quick sautéed vegetables, and vary the flavours by using different herbs. Sage is one that is often paired with gnocchi and brown butter, so give it a try. I also vary the type of potatoes I use and one of my favourites is the sweet potato gnocchi.
Go and make some gnocchi for dinner tonight, expand you culinary horizons and enjoy the adventure.