If you can't have gluten-free gnocchi in Italy, then have Italy come to you!
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That's what we did last month before the COVID-19 quarantining began. My dear friend Heather and her fiance Roberto invited us to their house for dinner. We had a delicious gluten-free Italian meal complete with wine, cheese, laughter, and hours of catching up! I'm so happy to share their Italian cooking tips with you here, and how to make gluten-free gnocchi!
Heather and I have been friends since 9th grade. We played in band/orchestra together, even traveling to London on a school trip! (We made t-shirts with special nicknames on them too, ha!) Back when we were sixteen, we'd sit in the uncomfortable chairs in our high school band room, playing silly songs, laughing about our crushes, and looking for things to do on Friday nights in our boring town. But then college came, and we went our separate ways. We lost touch for many years.
When Heather recently moved to Boston, it was the perfect opportunity to reconnect. And nothing changed between us at all! Now in our thirties, Heather and I sat at with glasses of wine in hand and spent hours talking about our jobs, traveling and food. Our silly antics were still there, and it was wonderful to pick up exactly where we left off.
Heather and her fiance Roberto love to travel! Roberto is from Italy, too! Together, they love visiting Italy, cooking Italian dishes at home, and traveling as much as possible. Heather's blog is all about living the Italian life here in the USA, filled with authentic Italian recipes that will have you drooling!
There are two versions of the gluten-free gnocchi recipe listed below - one with Cup4Cup flour, my preferred flour blend, and one with chickpea flour. Be sure to double-check the specifics about the differences in the egg for each recipe.
As this recipe was adapted right from Italy (in Italian, no less!), a kitchen scale really comes in handy. This is the kitchen scale I use and have been using for 4 years now. I have adapted the recipe to cups but please adjust if needed.
Pesto Tips From Roberto
Roberto's pesto was fantastic, but he makes it all by taste. Roberto is from Genoa, and pesto originally comes from Genoa, so he definitely knows what he's doing. I have my own spinach pesto recipe but I learned quite a few things from Roberto's teachings.
-Be sure to use young and small basil leaves. Soak the basil leaves to remove impurities. Do so gently, transferring them from a bowl with water to an empty bowl, until no dirt remains.
-Garlic is optional- some use garlic in their pesto, and some don't. I discovered I actually prefer pesto without garlic, after this dinner!
-Two types of cheeses make a delicious pesto. Be sure to use a ratio of 75% parmigiana, 25% pecorino.
-When mixing pesto into pasta, be sure to add some of the starchy gluten-free pasta water to thin out the sauce. It works perfectly!
Gnocchi is also great with butter and sage, like this recipe which we had with the Cup4Cup gnocchi. Enjoy your gnocchi with whatever sauce you prefer! Gnocchi is fresh pasta, so it's best to cook it immediately. Once the gnocchi is cooked, you can store any leftovers in the fridge for 2-3 days and reheat in the microwave.
Here's how to make gluten-free gnocchi from scratch - two ways to make these "little pillows" of deliciousness!
Gluten-Free Gnocchi Recipe
- 150 grams (about 1 ½ cups) Cup4Cup flour or chickpea flour
- 500 grams (1 pound) russet potatoes, mashed (about 2-3 potatoes)
- 1 whole egg + 1 egg yolk (for chickpea gnocchi, only use 1 egg)
Peel potatoes and dice into small cubes of even size. Place the potatoes in a small pot, and add water until they are just covered. Bring potatoes to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 10-12 minutes, or until tender. Pierce them with a fork to check. You want them to be soft so they are easy to mash. Drain and let cool. When the potatoes have cooled, mash them using a pastry cutter, fork, or potato masher.
Onto a clean surface or countertop, pour out the flour and potatoes directly on top of one another, making a small circle shape. Make a well in the center (essentially, a small hole), and crack the egg (+1 yolk if using Cup4Cup) right into the hole. Using a fork or your finger, scramble the egg and mix until the yolk and whites are combined.
Slowly, begin adding and incorporating little bits of the flour and potato from around the well. Continue to mix and incorporate in a circle, adding flour and potato as you go, until the mixture begins to stick and form a dough. Keep mixing and begin kneading until the dough looks rollable! When the dough can be easily manipulated, shape into a ball and cut into six equal pieces.
Take one piece of the dough and using your hands, begin to roll the dough into a long and fairly thin snake. Using a sharp knife, cut the snake into ½ inch pieces. From here, you can leave the gnocchi as is, or get a little fancy. With a fork, create little lines in the gnocchi or with your fingers, place a small dimple in the center of the gnocchi- making it look like a real, miniature pillow.
Lay the gnocchi on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or silicone mats. Sprinkle with additional gluten-free flour as you go so they don't stick together. Repeat steps 4-5 until no dough remains.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Gently, place the gnocchi into the hot water but be careful as they can create some splash. You can use a large spoon to help. Cook the gnocchi until they have floated to the top - that's when you know they are done. It should only take about 2 minutes, so watch closely.
Remove the gnocchi from the boiling water using a slotted spoon. Toss gnocchi with your sauce of choice, and enjoy!
This recipe is based on one from Italy, so the weight is in grams. If you don't already have a kitchen scale, it's a great tool to have for cooking and baking. You can measure exact amounts precisely and convert the units to whatever scale the recipe uses. If you don't have a kitchen scale, use an online converter to translate grams into cups.
We tried the recipe in two ways. With Heather and Roberto, we made chickpea gnocchi. Back at home, Dylan and I made regular gnocchi with Cup4Cup flour. Both worked for the amounts listed. The Cup4Cup gnocchi required an extra egg yolk, whereas the chickpea gnocchi did not. You might have to experiment if the dough is too dry and does not stick together. Adding an extra egg yolk did the trick for the Cup4Cup version, but I cannot say how your gnocchi will turn out with a different gluten-free flour blend. Please leave a comment or send me a message with questions and I'm happy to troubleshoot!
Have you ever made gnocchi from scratch?
Do you like garlic in your pesto sauce?
Let me know in the comments!