Chef Wendy loves gnocchi, and in this article she provides some expert tips for making the most of these delicious little dumplings.
As the temperatures start to drop there is one dish I simply cannot get off my mind – gnocchi! Soft, plump little melt-in-the-mouth potato dumplings smothered in a rich and creamy sauce – who can possibly resist a steaming plate of these classic Italian delicacies?
Gnocchi often has a bad reputation with many saying it’s laborious and complicated to prepare, with a low success rate. I agree that preparing fresh home-made gnocchi is definitely not the best option for a mid-week dinner, but these days we are able to get really good quality store-bought gnocchi, and that means dinner can be ready in a matter of minutes.
Where to find it
So where do you find gnocchi in the supermarket? If you are looking for fresh potato gnocchi, you will find it in the refrigerated foods aisle together with fresh pasta sauces and fresh soups. Dry gnocchi is usually found in the pasta aisle.
How to cook it
The beauty of gnocchi is that it cooks much faster than any of its pasta cousins and allows you to introduce some new interesting dinner ideas to your usual dinner routine.
Gnocchi is so easy to cook. Once you have made it, you will find yourself preparing this ultimate comfort carb more frequently.
First bring a large pot of lightly salted water to the boil. Once the water is rapidly boiling, simply drop the gnocchi into the pot – you’ll notice that they will sink to the bottom of the pot. Within 2 – 4 minutes the gnocchi will start to resurface and will float to the top – this indicates that the gnocchi is cooked and can be removed from the pot. It is best to use a slotted spoon to remove your gnocchi as they will not all float to the surface at the same time. Once you have removed the gnocchi from the pot you can start preparing the accompanying sauce.
Sauces for gnocchi
I have no boundaries when it comes to making sauce to go with gnocchi! My best friend in the pantry – a tin of diced tomatoes – is the perfect addition to any gnocchi-based dish. You can add absolutely anything to the sauce to bulk it up and add flavour - diced bacon, left-over shredded roast chicken, mushrooms, or any other veggies you may have in the fridge.
This recipe pairs the gnocchi with a delicious creamy pesto-based sauce with some chicken and mushrooms thrown in: http://www.whatsfordinner.co.za/recipes/detail/10480/1/creamy-gnocchi-with-pesto-bacon-and-mushrooms
If you prefer your gnocchi to have a little texture and crunch to it, you can try pan-frying it in some melted butter with a little finely chopped sage, then top it with fresh shavings of Parmesan cheese – this is a classic way to eat the dish. You can also try oven-baking your gnocchi – here’s a recipe that uses this method: http://www.whatsfordinner.co.za/recipes/detail/12169/1/oven-baked-mushroom-tomato-and-gorgonzola-gnocchi
Use gnocchi in place of pasta
Best of all, gnocchi is so versatile. You can prepare your family’s favourite meals (such as mac & cheese or bolognaise) simply by substituting pasta with gnocchi. Here are two great recipes that you can serve up with little effort, and the kids will absolutely love them!
If you are really in a hurry and short on creative ideas you can simply choose one of your favourite KNORR Pasta Sauces – prepare it as per the on-pack instructions then toss the prepared sauce with your boiled gnocchi. Transfer to a serving dish, top with a little grated Cheddar and grill for a few minutes in the oven to melt the cheese. Another great idea is to add the gnocchi to a rich and warm winter beef stew.