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Homemade Whole Wheat Gnocchi

January 23, 2011

I've finally done it! For years I've wanted to learn how to make gnocchi and have put off trying to make it without being taught by someone who really knows how. I kept reading you need a gentle hand and I was nervous that I'd really mess it up. I used EatingWell's recipe for Homemade Potato Gnocchi, but chose to use Whole Wheat flour instead of all purpose flour.

I'd read that using a potato ricer was the best way to go, but I'm too cheap to buy a one-trick-pony type of kitchen gadget. I lack cabinet space as it is; the last thing I need is something else taking up precious space. So I was planning to grate the potatoes by hand on the cheese grater. Then it occurred to me that I had not yet used my KitchenAid mixer's grater but once. (I really need to use that more to justify its cabinet space.)

Shredded Yukon Gold Potatoes

I was delighted with how quickly and effortlessly it shredded the four pounds Yukon Gold potatoes I'd baked and peeled. I was honestly tempted to do the rest of the recipe in the mixer, but I thought I'd better try mixing in the salt, egg, and flour by hand using a bench knife like the instructions directed. The bench knife is another of those rarely used tools, so I was happy to have cause to make use of it.

A quartered disk of gnocchi

I'd made a double batch, so first I made one big disk and cut it in half. Then I took the first half and made it into a disk then cut it into four pieces. It looked like a good picture to me, so I quickly washed my hands and snapped this shot.

Gnocchi snakes!

Next I took each of the quarters and rolled them out into "snakes" that were two feet long each. The ruler on the bench knife came in handy for that part. (My husband took a few pictures for me; thanks Dan!)

Whole Wheat Gnocchi cut in pieces

Once I'd rolled out all the ropes (I like that word better than "snakes"), I rolled four of them close enough to each other so that I could use the bench knife to cut them all at the same time. It really made the cutting process go quickly.

Unlike typical gnocchi I've seen, this recipe didn't ask me to roll grooves into the pieces. Instead, the last step before cooking is to poke the gnocchi with your fingertip. That doesn't work very well when you've got fingernails! My husband smartly suggested using one of my tiny measuring spoons which has a small round shape. That worked beautifully!

Gnocchi on a lightly floured baking sheet

Since I was going to be cooking at my parents' house, I lightly dusted a tray with flour and moved the pieces from the counter onto trays. I moved 203 pieces but kept about 16 or so out so I could test cooking them. (No way I'd risk them turning out badly at mom and dad's house!)

Meanwhile Dan had started a pot of boiling water for me. I dropped in a few and it didn't take long for them to rise to the surface. It seemed too quick so I didn't take them out right away. They were a bit mushy once I took them out.  So I dropped in a few more and Dan took them out just as soon as they popped to the surface of the water. That was much better, but still a touch too soft for my liking. We then decided to fry some and see if they turned out any better.

They were fried in just a tiny bit of oil since the recipe suggests you cook each serving in 1 teaspoon of oil. Those turned out much better.

Whole Wheat Gnocchi Cooked

I decided that it would be best to cook them in the skillet with both some garlic oil and light olive oil. It was a little challenging getting used to mom's stove, but by the end I was cooking them perfectly without scorching them too much. Dan liked the darkest pieces best because they have a slight crispiness to them.

Gnocchi plated without the sauce

Even plain (without sauce), they were quite yummy. With all the work put into this dish, adding a fresh garnish of oregano seemed quite appropriate (and pretty). Wait, isn't that one of my plates in the picture? Why yes, it is... Mom's plates are covered in flowers so I brought one of my plates just so I could take a picture. Oh the things I go through for my blog...

The sauce I prepared to top the gnocchi was made with 2 cans of unsalted diced tomatoes, a little bit of sugar, freshly minced garlic, and from my garden I used fresh parsley, fresh oregano and fresh rosemary. I left the rosemary on the branch while sauteing the sauce which made it easy to remove them when it was ready to be served.

To go with the gnocchi, I threw together some spinach with some tomatoes and Honeycrisp apples and a dressing of my own creation. I haven't decided on a name for it yet, but I will write it up and share it soon.

Whole Wheat Gnocchi served

These gnocchi are definitely not as firm or dense as the store bought kind which is typically served in restaurants. I'm not sure that I've ever had freshly made gnocchi before today. I can't honestly say if I did it right or not. What I can say is that Dan liked it better than the ready-made kind. I agree; fresh is definitely better. Still, I'm curious if I did it "right" and hope to find it fresh in a restaurant so I can verify.

Right, wrong, or otherwise, I'm planning to make spinach and sun-dried tomato flavored gnocchi and sweet potato gnocchi as well. I've already got ideas for a dessert gnocchi brewing in my head but I want a little more practice at making dinner gnocchi first. I'm giving my first try a "not bad, not bad at all" rating, because while it was really good, I know I can do even better with practice.

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