Sunday, December 7, 2008

Gnocchi with watercress and bacon

I had a handful of watercress left over from the watercress soup, and I found a recipe for a sauce of watercress, garlic, red pepper flakes,tomato, olive oil, white wine and pancetta (optional for vegetarian) to serve with potato gnocchi. It turned out so good that I forgot to put the bacon (I had some on hand and substituted it for the pancetta) in it until I'd eaten half of it! I also didn't add any Parmesan, but forgoing the Parmesan meant that it required a little more salt. I used tomatoes from my friend's garden that I froze back in August.

The recipe calls for store bought gnocchi. I'm sure that works well if you are in a hurry, but I figured I should do something productive on a Sunday afternoon besides napping. I made the gnocchi with some potatoes in my cupboard that were beginning to sprout so they had to be used. I found a totally easy recipe in Cooks' Illustrated.


2 pounds russet potatoes (or other baking potato), washed
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour , plus more as needed
1 teaspoon salt, plus more for cooking liquid


  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Bake potatoes until a metal skewer slides easily through them, 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on size.
  2. Hold potato with a pot holder or kitchen towel and peel it with a vegetable peeler or paring knife (see illustration 1); rice peeled potato into a large bowl. Peel and rice remaining potatoes. Cool until potatoes are no longer hot, about 15 minutes.

  3. Sprinkle 1 1/4 cups flour and 1 teaspoon salt over warm potatoes. Using your hands, work mixture into a soft, smooth dough. If dough is sticky (which is often the case), add more flour as needed, up to 1 1/2 cups total.

  4. Roll about one-quarter of dough into a long 3/4-inch-thick rope. If rope won’t hold together, return it to bowl with remaining dough and work in more flour as needed. Repeat until all dough is rolled.

  5. Cut rope of dough into 3/4-inch lengths (illustration 4). Holding butter paddle or fork in one hand, press each piece of cut dough against ridged surface with index finger to make an indentation in center. Roll dough down and off ridges and allow it to drop to work surface (illustrations 5, 6, and 7). (Gnocchi can be placed in a single layer on a baking sheet and

    refrigerated for several hours. Or, baking sheet can be placed in freezer for about 1 hour. Partially frozen gnocchi can be transferred to plastic bag or container, sealed, and frozen for up to 1 month.)

  6. Bring 4 quarts of water to low boil in large pot. Add 2 teaspoons salt or to taste. Add about one-third of the gnocchi and cook until they float, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes (about 3 minutes for frozen gnocchi). Retrieve gnocchi with slotted spoon and transfer to warm, shallow serving bowl or platter. Repeat cooking process with remaining gnocchi; see related recipes for topping suggestions.

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