on Feb 04, 2019, Updated Jul 09, 2023
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The key to making potato gnocchi is to bake the potatoes instead of boiling them. Tossed in nutty brown butter and sage, they are worth making from scratch.
I don’t remember the last time my husband and I went to dinner on Valentine’s Day. Since our son was born 5 years ago, I know it’s been at least that long.
As I’m sure all parents can relate, it’s not just deciding when and where to go. Finding a babysitter adds another complication to going out especially on a holiday.
That probably sounds rather unromantic, but I don’t mind staying in. Call me a homebody if you want. I won’t be offended.
We still do celebrate Valentine’s Day, but it’s with a homecooked meal. I make sure the food isn’t something from our regular rotation, so it feels different.
And of course, we’ll have a nice bottle of wine to pair with it.
My husband absolutely loves gnocchi. I wish I thought to make it more often, but then it’s great to save for special occasions.
What is Gnocchi?
An Italian food staple, gnocchi are potato dumplings made with flour, egg, Parmesan, salt and pepper. Once you make the dough, you roll it out into a long rope and cut it into individual pieces.
Then you roll the gnocchi down the back of a fork, so they end up with ridges. These indentations help whatever sauce hold on to the dumplings.
Tips for Making Potato Gnocchi
Classic potato gnocchi seems simple enough, but it can be a little tricky. Here are a few tips:
- Bake the potatoes in the oven. Do not boil them. Some recipes call for boiling the potatoes until tender, but any extra water can result in dense dumplings.
- Keep things light and fluffy! Once the potatoes have cooled a bit, I use a fork to scoop out the flesh, feed it through a potato ricer. If you don’t have a ricer or food mill, push the potato through a fine mesh strainer instead.
- Make it a team effort. Try sharing the duties of rolling out the dough into long pieces, cutting them and rolling them on a fork. This is a great recipe to do with a friend. It’s kid-friendly, too.
This is what you need to make potato gnocchi:
- Russet potatoes: These are the best potatoes for gnocchi because they are dry and great for baking.
- Egg: You just need 1 egg to act like the glue to bring the dumplings together.
- Parmesan: Grated Parmesan adds that subtle salty umami flavor.
- Flour: Go easy on the all-purpose flour and stir in just the amount you need to end up with dough that is a smidge sticky.
- Salt & pepper: I season the dough with salt and black pepper.
- Butter: This ingredient is for the brown butter sauce, of course, and not the gnocchi dough.
- Sage: Nutty brown butter and sage are a great pair for the sauce.
How To Make Gnocchi
First, I preheat the oven to bake the potatoes. This takes around 45 minutes. The potatoes should be soft enough that you can easily pierce them with a knife.
Then when the potatoes have cooled a little, I halve them, scoop out the flesh and feed it through a potato ricer or food mill. Again, if you don’t have one of these gadgets, you can push the flesh through a fine mesh strainer.
Next, I stir in the egg, Parmesan, salt and pepper. After that, I fold in the flour, starting with 1 cup. The dough should be just the slightest bit sticky. Add more flour in small amounts as you need it.
Now it’s time to roll out the dough into long ropes. I then cut those into 1-inch pieces. For the signature ridges on the sides, I just press and roll them right off the back of a fork.
How To Brown Butter
Before I cook the gnocchi, I make the brown butter. In a large skillet I melt the butter over the heat and give it time to turn brown. It will have a wonderfully nutty aroma. Just make sure to watch it closely, because the butter will continue to brown in the pan when you take it off the heat.
I also fry sage leaves in the brown butter. The crisp up in seconds.
Then in a pot of salted boiling water, I cook my gnocchi. They float to the top of the water when they are ready, which doesn’t take long.
After that, I put the skillet with the butter back on the heat and carefully stir in the gnocchi, browning them at the edges.
Finally, I top the gnocchi with Parmesan and the crispy sage.
Love This Recipe, But Prefer Store-Bought Gnocchi?
I can’t say enough about how convenient store-bought packaged gnocchi is, so here are a few faster recipes to try:
Cherry Tomato Gnocchi
Baked Gnocchi with Mushrooms & Spinach
Mushroom Asparagus Gnocchi
Sheet Pan Gnocchi with Roasted Vegetables
Skillet Red Pepper White Bean Gnocchi
Pesto Gnocchi with Sun Dried Tomatoes
- 1-1/2 pounds russet potatoes
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan plus shaved Parmesan for serving
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1-1/2 to 2 cups all-purpose flour plus more for dusting
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup sage leaves
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Prick the potatoes with a fork and place them in the oven directly on the rack on a sheet of aluminum foil. Bake 40-45 minutes until they are tender and can be pierced easily with a knife.
- When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, halve them, scoop out the flesh and feed through a potato ricer or food mill into a large bowl. Whisk in the egg, Parmesan, salt and pepper. Fold in 1 cup flour and add the rest of the flour in small amounts until you have a workable dough that is barely sticky. You may not need all the flour.
- On a lightly floured work surface take a handful of dough and roll it into a 1/2-inch thick rope. Cut the rope into 1-inch pieces and roll down the tines of the back of a fork. Transfer the gnocchi to a flour-dusted sheet pan.
- In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium high heat. When the butter starts to turn brown and smells nutty, fry the sage leaves until crisp, about 20 seconds. Remove the sage from the butter and take the skillet off the heat when the butter is golden brown.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook a quarter of the gnocchi for about 3 minutes until they float to the top. Use a slotted spoon transfer to a bowl and cook the remaining gnocchi.
- Return the brown butter to medium heat and gently toss the gnocchi in the butter until they are browned at the edges. Serve topped with sage and Parmesan.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.