September 14, 2013

Potato Gnocchi with Simple Tomato Sauce


Todd, who is The Daring Kitchen’s AWESOME webmaster and an amazing cook, is our September Daring Cooks’ host! Todd challenged us to make light and fluffy potato Gnocchi and encouraged us to flavor the lil pillows of goodness and go wild with a sauce to top them with!

I never thought I’d make homemade potato gnocchi. Made properly, gnocchi are soft and pillowy, light as air. But I’d eaten enough gummy, heavy, dense, leaden gnocchi in restaurants to know how bad gnocchi can be.

I’d also heard — from cooking shows, food magazines, even Mario Batali — that homemade gnocchi was not for the faint of heart. Choose the right potatoes! Don’t add to much flour! Don’t overhandle the dough! I figured this was something best left to Italian nonnas.

And then Daring Cooks came and threw down the challenge. Game on.

It turns out gnocchi aren’t all that hard to make. It might have been beginner’s luck. Or that the recipe provided by this month’s Daring Cooks’ host was foolproof.

In any case, the gnocchi turned out light and pillowy. I topped them with a simple, homemade tomato sauce and thinly sliced mozzarella, then threw the mixture under a broiler. I’m no Italian grandma, but I’m pretty sure the word “delizioso” escaped my lips when I took my first bite.

Bake two starchy potatoes until tender, then scoop out the flesh.

Pass through a ricer or food mill.

Place the potatoes on a floured surface. Add flour and egg.

Gently knead the flour and egg into the potato until a dough just comes together.

Take part of the dough and roll it into a 1/2 inch thick rope.

Cut the rope into small pieces. Score the gnocchi with a fork or gnocchi board if you have one.

Put the gnocchi on a parchment-lined baking sheet while you prepare the rest of the gnocchi.

Place a few gnocchi at a time into boiling water. When they're cooked, they'll rise to the top (give them an extra minute after the come to the top).

Remove gnocchi from the water and place in a bowl until all the gnocchi are cooked.

Now the sauce, which is quick, easy and tasty. Place unpeeled, whole tomatoes in a blender or food processor.

Puree until they reach a consistency you like.

Heat olive oil. Add garlic and cook until light golden brown.

Add pureed tomatoes, salt and sugar. I still have some basil growing in my backyard, so I added a few basil leaves too. Simmer until flavors meld and sauce thickens slightly.

Once the sauce is ready and the gnocchi are cooked, place some gnocchi in an individual serving bowl. Top with sauce.

And mozzarella cheese.

Pop under the broiler for a minute or two until the cheese melts.


Potato Gnocchi with Simple Tomato Sauce

Potato Gnocchi:

Recipe from A Cooking Dad

1½ pounds starchy potatoes (Russet or Idaho work well)
½ to ¾ cup all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
1 large egg (optional)

1.    Heat the oven to 400°F and bake potatoes until tender, about an hour (mine took 1 1/2 hours to get tender). You can also boil the potatoes with their skins on. When potatoes are cooked split the potatoes open to allow steam to escape. When potatoes are cool enough to handle, scoop out their flesh.

2.    Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

3.    Pass the potatoes through a ricer or food mill, on a medium setting. If you do not have a ricer or mill you can use a masher but try not to “work” the potatoes too much as this will cause the gnocchi to be tougher.

4.    Place the potatoes on a well-floured surface and form a well in the potatoes. Put ¼ cup flour and the egg (if using) in the potatoes. Gently knead the potato, adding the additional flour if needed, just until the dough comes together.

5.    Pinch off a small piece of the dough and try cooking it in the boiling water to see if it holds together. If it does not add a little more flour and try again.

6.    Roll some of the dough into a ½ inch thick rope, then cut the rope into ½ inch pieces.

7.    Score each piece with a fork or gnocchi board.

8.    Put the pieces onto a parchment lined baking sheet until ready to cook.

9.    Add the gnocchi to the boiling water in small batches. After they rise to the surface let them cook another 60 seconds and remove them with a slotted spoon.

Serves 3

Quick Pomodoro Sauce:

Recipe slightly adapted from Bon Appetit

1 28 ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
1/2 cup olive oil (This was way too much. Next time I will only use 1/4 cup.)
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 tsp sugar
Kosher salt
Fresh basil leaves (optional)

1.    Pulse tomatoes with juices in a blender or food processor to form a coarse puree.

2.    Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring often, until beginning to brown, about 2 minutes.

3.    Add tomato puree and sugar and basil (if using). Season with salt and basil. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer gently until sauce is slightly thickened, 10 to 15 minutes.

Makes 3 cups.


  1. A great take on the challenge, simple but delicious I'm sure.

  2. I had the same impression! that gnocchi was too hard and too complicated!
    I love how easy it turned out to be :)

  3. I think the tomato sauce is the best one to serve with gnocchi :) well done !!

  4. Great job!
    Gnocchi are one of my favorite things; so I am glad they are not so bad to make :-)

  5. I like your idea to top with fresh mozarella - looks so apetizing..

  6. G'day and YUM! Love the simplicity and congrats on completing the challenge too!
    WISH I could try some of your recipe right now,true!
    Cheers! Joanne
    Viewed as Part of The Daring Kitchen Cooks Challenge Sept 2013


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