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This gluten-free potato gnocchi dish is served with either a sage butter sauce or homemade pesto sauce. The recipes for these sauces are included in the recipe card.
Is gnocchi a pasta?
Potato gnocchi is an Italian dish that falls in the pasta category, although it is made mainly from cooked potatoes that are formed into soft, pillow-like dumplings served with an array of different sauces.
How I learnt to make homemade gnocchi in Argentina
My Argentine grandmother aka Abuela was a real pro at making gnocchi or ñoqui in Spanish. She learnt how to make them from her Italian-Piedmont mother and grandmother who probably learnt from their ancestors. One day, I remember asking her for the recipe. She replied “What recipe? It is all in my head!”
Alternatively, I decided to watch her in action and take notes: Rolling up her sleeves, she would pile the cooked potatoes onto a table and mash them with her bare hands, amazingly while they were piping hot. Then after a light knead, she would incorporate the rest of the ingredients and assemble perfectly uniform gnocchi at full speed. Eventually, the table was taken over by at least two hundred gnocchi and left there until the accompanying meat tomato sauce was ready. In my eyes, it was mesmerising to watch!
Having a gnocchi cook in an Argentine home is very handy as every 29th of the month, they celebrate gnocchi day – Día de los ñoquis.
Besides the mandatory gnocchi-eating with family or friends, there is an additional custom to slip some money (usually notes) under each plate. The superstition goes that carrying that money with you after the meal is said to bring you enormous luck and prosperity. Although many donate the money to a charity of their choice, hoping it will bring them some good karma in return.
Another custom is to donate the money to the cook for next month’s gnocchi meal – a great way to keep those gnocchi circulating!
The reason Argentines religiously eat gnocchi on this date falls back to when paychecks were handed at the end of each month, so all that was supposedly left in the kitchen pantry on the eve of payday were humble and filling potatoes!
Which potatoes are the best for gnocchi?
Any floury variety, but specifically here are some highly suitable potato varieties:
- Red Desiree (perfect for gnocchi)
- Royal Blues
- King Edwards
- Yukon Gold (nuttier tasting)
- Maris Piper
- Crème Royale
Should I bake or boil the potatoes?
It is entirely up to you, which method you choose, as both work well, although I prefer boiling as it is faster and more traditional in keeping with my grandmother’s recipe.
Important steps for the perfect gnocchi that will melt in your mouth
1. Buy only floury potatoes – the older, the better. Tip: buy in advance and store them for several weeks to convert them into older potatoes.
2. If available, use organic eggs.
3. Cook the whole potatoes in their skins.
4. If available, use a potato ricer when the potatoes are still warm. The potatoes will be airer and fluffier.
5. Don’t skip the sweet rice flour * – it is an important gluten-free ingredient that adds a nice bite to the gnocchi without it being sandy or dry. This flour is also known as glutinous rice flour, which can be readily found in most Asian supermarkets or on Amazon.
6. Add the flours gradually, not all at once.
7. Work the dough by hand rather than using a mixer.
8. Do not overmix the dough.
9. Choose between the gnocchi press (ñoquera) or the back of a fork to form your gnocchi. The press gives some bonus “extra stripes” compared to the fork, but both will work well towards a traditional gnocchi shape.
10. Cook gnocchi in batches to avoid overcrowding.
11. Don’t overcook the gnocchi. Remove them as soon as they pop up to the surface of the cooking water.
12. Preferably, eat them straight away with your chosen sauce, otherwise heating them up later is fine, but bear in mind that this may result in softer gnocchi due to the extra heating time.
Now that you know what potatoes to use and what to do…using only a few ingredients, you can rustle up some impressive gluten-free gnocchi for your family or friends by following this recipe. I like serving my gnocchi with a simple sauce such as sage butter as you can really taste the gnocchi without being plastered with highly seasoned meat sauces. They are supposed to be delicate and light – so keeping with that idea, this sage butter does the trick as well as a homemade pesto sauce.
Gluten-Free Potato Gnocchi
- Deep stove-top pot
- Potato ricer, or or regular potato masher
- Food processor for pesto making
GLUTEN-FREE POTATO GNOCCHI
- 20 fresh sage leaves, torn
- 100 g butter
- 1 tsp salt
- freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
- 100 g mixture of almonds and cashews, whole & skins removed
- 40-50 g fresh basil leaves
- 3 garlic cloves, whole
- 150 ml extra-virgin olive oil
- 20 g Parmesan cheese, grated
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
- ½ tsp chilli flakes (optional)
GLUTEN-FREE POTATO GNOCCHI
- Wash the potatoes and place them in a large pot of salted, cold water.
- Turn on the heat to high and cover with the lid.
- As soon as the water has come to a boil, lower the heat to medium. Keep the lid on.
- Set your timer for 20 minutes and check if the potatoes are cooked by inserting a skewer or bamboo stick straight through the largest potato. If it easily pierces through, the potatoes are ready. Any resistance, they need another 5 to 10 minutes more to cook.
- Once cooked, drain the potatoes from the cooking water and return the cooked potatoes back to the empty pot. Lower the heat to low and gently move them around to dry out any water left on their skins.
- Remove the potatoes from the pot and immediately peel off their skins. I recommend using a latex glove to remove the peel with one hand and holding the hot potato with a tea towel or oven glove on the other hand.
- As each potato is peeled, place it in a potato ricer to press or mash it with a traditional masher in a medium bowl.
- Once all the potatoes are peeled and mashed, set aside to cool to room temperature for about 15 mins. A good tip for planning ahead is to make the potatoes the day before and store them covered in the fridge.)
- If using fresh nutmeg, grate the amount needed into a bowl.
- Add and combine the sweet rice flour and salt to the nutmeg.
- Once the potatoes are cool, make a space in the centre and add the eggs.
- Mix the eggs thoroughly into the potatoes using a fork.
- Add the sweet flour mixture and plain flour gradually, mixing well. Depending on the type of potatoes, you may need more or less plain flour to form the gnocchi dough. The dough should feel slightly moist and easily fall away from your fingers when dropped. Do not over-flour otherwise, your gnocchi will become too dry in appearance and flavour.
- Portion the dough into several balls and start rolling each one into long ropes about 3cm in diameter.
- Start slicing each rope into 3cm pieces. It is important to keep each piece accurate in size so that they cook evenly.
- Using the gnocchi press, sprinkle some rice flour on the gnocchi and press and guide it gently down the gnocchi press. Practice makes perfect, but don’t worry if you aren’t happy with the result, as you can re-roll the gnocchi and start over.
- If using a fork, press and roll the gnocchi at the back of a fork.
- Place the gnocchi onto a large tray and sprinkle some rice flour over them. As an extra measure, cover the gnocchi with a tea towel while forming the remainder.
- Towards the end of gnocchi rolling, heat up a large, deep pot with water and some salt. Cover and bring to a boil.
- Lower the heat from boiling to a steady simmer and add 10 to 12 gnocchi at a time, so they don’t overcrowd the pot.
- They should rise and float to the surface in less than 2 minutes. Immediately remove them.
- Swiftly transfer the gnocchi to a warm serving platter using a mesh strainer.
- Cover the cooked gnocchi with a tea towel and continue cooking the remaining gnocchi.
- Tear the fresh sage leaves into rough pieces.
- Melt the butter over a medium heat in a small frying pan.
- Add the sage leaves and stir continuously until they are crisp and release their aroma. This should take around 5 minutes.
- Season with salt and freshly cracked black pepper.
- Gather and measure all the pesto ingredients.
- Roast the nuts in a dry pan over medium heat, stirring often until slightly golden.
- Allow to cool down and set aside. This is important as hot nuts can scorch the basil leaves and impart a bitter taste.
- Blend the garlic cloves and basil leaves. Pulse a few times and scrape the mixture down from the sides.
- Add the cool nuts and pulse a few times until crushed evenly into a breadcrumb consistency.
- Select the lowest blending setting and slowly add the olive oil. The oil should be slightly floating on top of the pesto mixture. Otherwise, add a few more tablespoons to get to this level.
- Add the lemon juice, cracked pepper and optional chilli flakes.
- Add the grated Parmesan cheese.
- Taste and add more lemon juice, black pepper or cheese, if needed.
- Portion the cooked gnocchi into soup or pasta bowls and pour your chosen sauce, either sage butter or pesto, to serve over the cooked gnocchi.
- Sprinkle the top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and serve immediately.
- Keeps for 2 days chilled
- Can be reheated by refreshing the gnocchi in boiling water for 1 minute or briefly in the microwave
- Assembled, raw gnocchi is suitable to freeze
Fresh, uncooked gnocchi can be frozen on a tray and later transferred to a zip-lock bag or freezer container. No need to thaw, as they cook perfectly straight from the freezer into boiling water.