If you met my nonna you would never believe she is 88, almost 89. She is vibrant, stylish, and extremely energetic. She went back to Italy last month, but before she left we had a great time shopping together. In fact, we even bought the same scarf and handbag from TJ Maxx. I copied her since they were so fashionable and fun.
I am my Nonna’s granddaughter. Like my nonna, you never know when I will break into song or try to teach someone something new. My cousin’s musician boyfriend recently recorded her singing and he is going to put all the songs together for us for Christmas. I can’t wait. When my nonna isn’t singing the songs of her childhood (many of which came from her days living through World War II), she is telling me how to cook. She knows I love cooking and entertaining and asks me all the time what I have cooked recently. Since I began this adventure 3 or 4 years ago she has been collecting recipes via magazine clippings and small cookbooks that she periodically gives to me from her purse. When she is in Italy, which is most of the year, I call her at least every Friday. Most of the time we talk about food.
On this last trip I told my nonna I wanted a tutorial on how to make gnocchi. We didn’t have time to make the dish together so she explained it to me. I wanted to get it exactly right since I know gnocchi can be challenging, so I taped her with my iPhone. Here is my nonna sans makeup teaching me how!
I followed all of her instructions, and after two fun tries and a few adjustments my gnocchi were really good! They are not great, but I have a feeling I just need patience and practice to get them jusssstttt right. PB and I, along with two of my cousins, are going to visit her this spring.
I’m counting on a live hands on gnocchi tutorial complete with Nonna’s songs and homemade sauce.
1 kilo (2.2 lbs) Russet potatoes
as much flour as is needed- no more than around 1-1.5 cups
1 tbs olive oil
1 tbs kosher salt
1. Fill a pot with cold water. Sprinkle in some salt and add your potatoes whole and unpeeled*. Boil them until they are really soft, about 20-30 minutes.
2. Peel the potatoes while hot and run them immediately through a potato ricer.** Lay them out on your counter (I just rice them directly into small piles on the counter) and allow to cool at least 2 hours.
3. Bring them together and make a small well.*** Add your egg, olive oil, and salt and mix gently, adding flour as needed, until you form a dough. For me this was about 1 cup of flour.
4. Cut the dough into 6 or 8 long pieces. Sprinkle your counter with a bit of flour and roll out each piece into a rope. Cut each rope into 3/4 inch pieces.
5. Take each piece of rope and either roll it off the back of a fork or on a gnocchi board. Don’t be afraid to use a little power- you want ridges in your gnocchi to better hold on to the sauce.
6. Heat water in a large pot. Add salt and 1 tbs olive oil. When it reaches a boil add your gnocchi in batches- about 10-15 gnocchi per batch. When they rise to the top of the pot they are done. Remove with a slotted spoon and place directly in sauce. Enjoy!
*Note: Nonna says to boil the potatoes whole and unpeeled to keep as much moisture out of them. In the same regard, that is why she says to let them cool completely before mixing together. As much moisture as possible should leave them.
**Note: This is what a potato ricer looks like.
***Note: To make a well just gather all the potatoes and make an indentation in the center to make room for the egg and other ingredients