Sunday, April 19, 2009

Gnocchi with cherry tomato and pancetta sauce

I can't truly say that the gnocchi recipe is my own since most basic gnocchi recipes are very similar to this one. Nevertheless, I have included it for referenced use with the various gnocchi and pasta sauces throughout this book (if they don't exist yet, they will someday :) ). Gnocchi are small potato dumplings that are most often used in pasta-like dishes.
I made the cherry tomato and pancetta sauce (below the gnocchi recipe) for Becky's birthday dinner this year. It turned out pretty well and is really easy to make!


  • Russet potatoes
  • Eggs
  • Parmesan and/or Romano cheese (freshly grated)
  • Flour
  1. I don't usually include proportions in my recipes, but I figure that for this recipe I could probably make something up. Here are my best guesses:
  2. For each pound of potato, use:
    • 1 Egg
    • 1/2 c. grated cheese
  3. One pound of potato will yield about two small first course portions
  4. Boil the potatoes with skins on until just tender - you don't want them to fall apart when a fork is put through them, but they should be tender enough to pierce easily
  5. Remove potatoes from water and place them out on a walled cookie sheet, reserving the potato water
  6. When the potatoes are just cool enough to peel (2 - 3 minutes), remove all skin and blemishes
  7. Roughly mash the potatoes with a fork, but be careful not to overdo it - you want to mash them just enough so all large chunks have been broken down
  8. Let the potatoes sit for a while and cool, 10 - 15 minutes
  9. After they have reached a comfortable temperature, put them in a large bowl with the cheese and egg, mixing well
  10. The dough will be pretty sticky at this point, so begin adding flour a little at a time until the ball is pliable and able to be gently rolled out without breaking
  11. If you end up adding too much flour, work some of the reserved potato water into the dough
  12. Remove a small chunk of the dough, smaller than baseball size, and place the rest of the dough into a covered bowl
  13. Roll out this chunk into a long snake about 1/2" thick
  14. Cut the snaked dough into 1" segments, these will be the dumplings
  15. If you would like, there are a few techniques you can use to get the traditional gnocchi shape (ridges) that help to keep the dumpling covered in whatever sauce you serve them with. I use a gnocchi paddle, which you can pick up at a specialty culinary store; or you can just use the back side of a fork. This is kind of a tricky procedure to explain without pictures, so search for "shaping gnocchi" in Google to see how it's done.
  16. And that's it for the dumplings themselves. You can use them in place of traditional pasta in many dishes. If you do not use them right away, they freeze very well.

Cherry Tomato and Pancetta Sauce

  • Red onion, finely sliced
  • Garlic, minced
  • Pancetta, chopped into 1/8" chunks
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Basil, fresh
  • Oregano, fresh
  • Chianti
  1. In a large pan, sauté the onion and garlic in a bit of extra virgin olive oil until tender
  2. Add the pancetta and sauté for about 5 minutes
  3. Add the whole cherry tomatoes to the pan
  4. Reduce heat to medium low and cover, stirring occasionally to prevent the ingredients from sticking to the pan
  5. The tomatoes will begin to soften and burst after a few minutes
  6. When the tomatoes have formed a nice sauce, add the fresh basil and oregano and mix well
  7. Add some chianti to the sauce and scrape up any pieces that may have gotten stuck to the bottom of the pan
  8. Simmer the sauce until slightly reduced
  9. Best served immediately over gnocchi (44).

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