Gnocchi with crispy crumbs topping
Sometimes when I make gnocchi I leave them smooth and pillowy instead of pressing them against a gnocchi board or a fork to create ridges. I know that traditionally gnocchi have ridges where the sauce can cling and settle in the grooves, but it’s also okay to leave them smooth, like little pillows.
I make gnocchi often, being the starch lover that I am, and I have a few different ways to serve them. One of my favourites is crisping the gnocchi in brown butter and serving them crispy on the outside and pillowy soft inside, perhaps with toasted walnuts or hazelnuts and fried sage for a little crunch. I particularly like this with sweet potato gnocchi. Note to self: make this again soon.
This recipe is for a quick gnocchi with easy homemade tomato sauce and a little crunch from crisp panko crumbs with parsley and cheese.
Ingredients for potato gnocchi
1.5 lb brown skinned potatoes
1- 1.5 cups all purpose flour (see note above)
Tomato sauce – see recipe below.
Directions for making the gnocchi:
Steam or boil the potatoes until cooked through. I steam them in a large pot over a steaming rack. Do not poke or pierce them too often as they should not get waterlogged. If you have time, bake them in the oven until tender.
When the potatoes are cooked through allow to cool slightly, then peel and push them through a ricer.
Begin adding flour to the mound of riced potatoes, kneading as you go.
Add just enough flour until a smooth dough forms that holds it shape.
At this point you can test the dough: bring water to a boil, pinch a couple of small pieces and form into gnocchi shape. Drop the gnocchi into the boiling water. Once they float to the surface check them. If they hold their shape then you can proceed with the recipe. If they fall apart then add more flour to the potatoes and continue kneading until it reaches the right consistency.
Once you are confident that the dough is ready divide it into four pieces and, on a lightly floured surface roll each into a rope about one inch thick. Try to roll them evenly so the gnocchi is of equal size.
Cut each roll into slices about 3/4 inch long.
To shape the gnocchi you have a few options: either roll it on a gnocchi board (that’s what I do), or using your finger press them lightly against the tines of a fork to create both an indentation on the under side and lines from the fork on the top. These will ensure even cooking and will create places for the sauce to stick. On the other hand I have had gnocchi that were pillowy and they were both beautiful and delicious. Do what you works for you.
Keep the shaped gnocchi on a lightly floured tray as you work.
Bring a large and wide pot of water to a boil and salt it generously.
Cook the gnocchi in a few batches in the boiling water. When they float to the top remove them and set aside. I use a piece of parchment to drop a bunch of the gnocchi into the water all at once. I set the gnocchi on the parchment and let them slide into the water all at once.
When you are finished cooking all the gnocchi add them to the pot with the tomato sauce and stir gently to coat them with the sauce.
Spoon into warm serving plates and top with crispy crumbs.
Serve at once.
1 cup panko crumbs or other coarse dry bread crumbs.
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper
1/3 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
Heat olive oil in a skillet, add crumbs and toast until golden.
Remove to a bowl, add parsley, salt and pepper.
Spoon over the gnocchi just before serving.
1 28 oz canned Italian plum tomatoes
1 onion, peeled and quartered
6 tablespoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed, not chopped
4 basil leaves
Optional herbs: thyme, sage
1 cup tomato passata optional (not tomato paste, passata is a tomato puree that comes in a glass bottle).
Salt and pepper
Add all the ingredients except the salt and pepper into a pot, bring to a gentle boil, lower heat and simmer for 45 minutes stirring occasionally and mashing any tomato chunks against the side of the pot.
Remove the onion and garlic and add salt and pepper to taste.
Puree the sauce gently using an immersion blender but be careful not to blend too much as it adds air into the sauce and it will become a lighter colour. If this happens, keep cooking it on low heat to evaporate the air and return the sauce to its vibrant reddish colour.