South Shore Breaker

Gnocchi the perfect choice for fall feasts

- MARK DEWOLF @drink_east

Autumn heralds a season where simplicity meets warmth in the culinary world, and nothing exemplifie­s this union quite like the humble yet vibrant gnocchi. In Italy's northern Veneto, gnocchi reign supreme as the pasta of choice — these “little pillows” as their name suggests, are anything but simple in taste. Crafted traditiona­lly from a blend of flour and potatoes, gnocchi embody the essence of Italian simplicity, offering a rich flavour profile with minimal preparatio­n. Whether you opt for the potato-based classic or the equally beloved spinach and ricotta variant, these colorful gnocchi dishes become a canvas for autumn's palette, offering a comforting and hearty tribute to the season's rustic charm.

Basic Gnocchi

1 lb russet potatoes, peeled 1 cup all-purpose flour 1 egg yolk

Directions: Place potatoes in a large pot of water. Bring to a boil. Boil until tender. Let cool slightly (15 minutes). Run through a ricer or food mill. Mash until smooth. Form a well the middle of the potato. Scatter flour around edges. Add an egg yolk to centre. Add two-thirds of flour and turn onto a clean work surface. Knead, adding more flour as needed, to form a soft, elastic, slightly sticky dough. Divide dough into two parts. Roll into long snakelike shapes. Cut into 3/4-inch-long pieces. To cook, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Working in batches, drop gnocchi into water and cook until they float. When finished, toss with sauce and serve.

Herbed Gnocchi

4 to 6 Servings

1 bunch basil

1 bunch parsley

1 bunch dill

3 garlic cloves

1 lemon, juice, zest

1 tsp red pepper flakes

1/3 cup olive oil

1 lb fresh gnocchi (see recipe above) Salt, to taste

Pepper, to taste

1/2 cup Parmesan, finely grated

Directions: Place herbs, garlic, lemon juice and lemon zest in a blender. Pulse until roughly chopped. With the motor running slowly, add in the olive oil. Blend until smooth. Cook gnocchi. Drain and toss with the herb purée.

Directions: Boil sweet potato in heavily salted water. When tender, drain. Let cool a bit, then run through a ricer and mash. Combine mashed sweet potato with flour, egg yolk, salt and nutmeg in a bowl using same process as used to make the basic gnocchi recipe. Mix until it forms a smooth dough. Cut dough into three or four pieces. Roll pieces of dough on a floured work surface into long snake like shapes. Cut into 3/4-inch pieces. Too cook gnocchi, bring a large pot of salted water to a

boil. Add gnocchi. When the gnocchi rise to the surface, they are done. Remove with slotted spoon. While the water is coming to a boil, place cream and roast garlic in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Reduce the sauce until it is rich and thick but not gluey. Finish the cream sauce by adding the blue cheese and stir to combine. Add the gnocchi to the sauce and toss. Serve in bowls garnished with toasted walnut pieces and accompanie­d with Parmesan.

Five Tips For Homemade Gnocchi 1. The potatoes – An Italian nonna told me that old, slightly dried-out potatoes are best for gnocchi. Simply put, potatoes should have a high starch and low water content. If not taking old potatoes from nonna’s cellar, opt for Russets and Yukon Golds.

2. To boil or bake? – Recipes will call for both ways of preparatio­n. If worried about moisture content of your potatoes, bake them and peel the before mashing. Each way works in my opinion. I tend to boil mine for ease of preparatio­n.

3. Mash them – When making gnocchi the key is to make smooth mashed potatoes. In order to get smooth uniform potatoes, I swear by the use of a potato ricer. Some kitchen tools I can’t live without, and this is one.

4. How much flour? – As I discovered making the gnocchi for this article, the amount of flour is variable. Start by adding a little less than the recipe calls for but be willing to add a lot more. Ultimately, you want the final dough to have a smooth texture and not be too sticky. Add more flour as needed.

5. Be creative – While classic gnocchi recipes call for potatoes, any number of root vegetables can be used, including beets, sweet potatoes, squash and pumpkin. Be creative and add a little colour to your gnocchi recipes.

Mark Dewolf, @drink_east, is a nationally recognized sommelier, creative director of Food & Drink at Saltwire Network, and leads food and wine tours to destinatio­ns around the world.

 ?? UNSPLASH ?? The Northern Italian classic gnocchi is a simple combinatio­n of potato, flour and an egg yolk, although many Italians omit the latter.
UNSPLASH The Northern Italian classic gnocchi is a simple combinatio­n of potato, flour and an egg yolk, although many Italians omit the latter.

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