Why, you make potato gnocchi of course! But only if you have an empty house and at least five free consecutive hours. Because, trust me, you will need both of those things. Along with patience. It’s a virtue. Think about it.
The thought of making my own potato gnocchi first popped into my head when I found out that it was the Tyler Florence Friday’s bonus recipe for February. Being that this is really not a recipe to make in a dorm kitchen, I was unable to make it during that month but bookmarked it as a kind-of project recipe to be undertaken during one of my school vacations. Spring break turned out to be especially advantageous because I am home all day, alone with the dog, with no one to interfere or poke and prod, as they are always wont to do. (My father is an especial culprit…he likes to stick a fork into whatever I am cooking no matter its stage of doneness.) Well, let me tell you, I set out with some fierce trepidation and anxiety (what if they didn’t turn out – what would we eat for dinner?!?!?) but it all turned out okay. I made some changes to Tyler’s recipe along the way, namely that I don’t have a potato ricer so I had to hand-rice the potatoes with a fork. I also didn’t add lemon to the ricotta because there are some lactose-intolerant people in my family and so I didn’t know how much would be used. I figured it would be best to just let everyone take their own ricotta from the container at their whim.
And what did the family of picky eaters say? Not much. They were too busy eating. There were no leftovers.
Potato Gnocchi with Peas, Prosciutto, and Ricotta
Serves 5, adapted from Tyler Florence
2-2 1/2 lb russet potatoes
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1 egg white
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cup frozen peas
1 large shallot (yes, again Anthony Bourdain would be proud)
1 tbsp butter
1/4 lb prosciutto, thinly sliced
15 oz part-skim ricotta
2 tbsp olive oil
more salt and pepper to taste
parmesan cheese for serving
1. Preheat the oven to 350. Scrub the potatoes, spray them with some cooking spray, sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast for 45 minutes (or until fork-tender). Let the cool for a few minutes then peel them with a paring knife. (I started to accrue VERY minor burns on my fingers from doing this. I thought of them as battle scars. The hands of a true chef, again a la Monsieur Bourdain.) If you have a potato ricer, rice the potatoes. If not, take a fork and run it along the side of the potatoes, effectively shredding them. Kind of the way you would a spaghetti squash.
2. In a large bowl, mix together the egg whites, cheese, salt, and potato. Add flour until the mix achieves a doughy consistency. If I ever decide to make these again, I might add in some more spices at this point. Maybe some garlic powder or herbs. Imagine cilantro-infused gnocchi.
3. Pour flour all over your entire table. Yes, this is a messy process. It INSISTS upon you getting your hands dirty. Breaking the dough into small chunks, roll it into a long tube and cut into approximately 1-inch pieces. Using a fork, press little indentations into the gnocchi to give them that grooved texture. After finishing my first tube, I heated up some water and tested two gnocchi. Tyler says in his recipe that they may either fall or apart or be too hard depending on whether you have used too much or too little flour, and I didn’t want to go through the whole proces only to discover I had to start again. That being said, mine were fine. Unless you are planning on cooking the gnoochi immediately, dust some baking pans with flour and place each gnocchi into the pan once it is formed. Once you are done, you will have made approximately 150 gnocchi (!) and your kitchen table will look like this:
5. Boil salted water in two pots – a large one for the gnocchi and a smaller one for the peas. While the water boils, heat up the olive oil in a saute pan. Add the shallots, some salt and pepper. Cook for a few minutes. Cook the peas in the boiling water until crisp-tender, then strain and add to the pan with the shallots. Keep this on low heat.
6. Once the gnocchi water is hot, add the gnocchi in batches, using a slotted spoon to remove them when they begin to float. Add them to the pan with the peas and the shallots. Add the butter to this pan, along with 1/2 cup of cooking water.
7. While all this is occurring, preheat the oven to 350. Arrange the prosciutto on a greashed baking sheet and bake for 7-10 minutes or until crisp.
8. Place some gnocchi onto each plate and top with two slices of the prosciutto as well as some ricotta. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese if desired.