Here at Chef and Pauper we are all about saving money as I’m sure you’re all beginning to realize. I was thinking to myself the other day, What is a cheap, quick way to make a hearty, filling and delicious meal without a whole lot of hassle?
The answer? Gnocchi!
If you’ve never had fresh pasta before, you are really missing out. It has an almost “meatier” mouth feel and the flavor just cannot be beat. If you’ve never made fresh pasta, don’t be intimidated. I’m right here with you, sending silent encouragement through the tubes of the internet.
Most types of pasta can be made with just 2, yes 2, ingredients. All-purpose flour and eggs. Thats it! Gnocchi, however, takes many more ingredients.
Prepare yourselves. To make gnocchi you will need… 3 ingredients. See? How difficult could a dish that only takes 3 ingredients to make really be to put together?
The following recipe will make enough pasta to serve 4 hungry people.
First, peel 2 medium to large russet potatoes and boil in salted water until soft.
Then, if you have a fancy potato ricer in your kitchen, run the potatoes through it. If, like us, you have no such tool, just mash them up with a good old potato masher or a fork. If you have no fork…um… let the potatoes cool down a bit and use your hands!
Once your potatoes have cooled down, add about 2 cups of all-purpose flour and 1 egg. You may or may not need to adjust the amount of flour due to the amount of mashed potatoes you have. Just trust yourself and go by feel. If the dough feels too loose, add more flour. If the dough feels too tight or dry, add a bit of water to loosen it up.
Now that you’ve combined the ingredients into a dough, it is time to knead! Get those buff, Popeye style forearms out and get to work! Knead the dough for about 10 minutes until you have a nice, smooth ball of what is soon to become delicious, fresh pasta.
At this point you have a couple of options. You can tightly wrap the dough and let it rest in your refrigerator until later in the day when you are ready to use it. You can also throw it in the freezer for up to 3 months! Finally, if it’s only dinner for 2, cut that dough ball in half and put half into cold storage.
OK, now the fun part! Cut the dough into equal sized parts. If you are using all the dough, it should be about 6 even sized parts. Next, roll the balls into “snakes” that are about 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch in diameter.
Then, cut the snakes into 1 inch pieces. You can actually stop here if you want and call it done! You’ve made fresh pasta! I like to get a little fancy though, let me show you what I mean.
Take the small pieces of pasta and one at a time, gently roll them across the tines of a fork. This will put pretty little grooves on your pasta. These grooves serve two practical purposes. First, they look fancy and it shows you’ve put some time and effort into this endeavor. Second, they actually help whatever sauce you decide to make stick to the pasta better, increasing the flavor of every bite!
Now for the last step. Bring a pot of water to a boil and lightly salt the water. Throw your newly-made pasta in and let it cook for about 3-4 minutes, or until the pasta floats.
That’s it! You’ve made fresh pasta and it only cost you about as much as the Sunday edition of the newspaper and a cup of coffee!
You might be thinking, “Brian, what about the sauce?” Well, that really is up to you. For the pasta I made for this post, we had a jar of vodka sauce in the pantry so I just used that and some leftover ground beef. Other favorites of mine are a brown butter and sage sauce, or even a nice garlic cream sauce. The sky really is the limit with gnocchi since it is a sturdy enough pasta it can really hold its own against most sauces.
That’s all for now, but if you would like to see how to make different styles of pasta please let me know! Pasta is one of my life’s greatest pleasures and nothing makes me happier than sharing that joy with all of you!
Thanks so much for reading and happy cooking!