Oh, the most beautiful of pastas! And I really mean that. Ya know, I am not really a homemade pasta kind of woman. I've never made it, but it just looks like a whole lot more work than I'm willing to do, at least at this point in my life. We'll see what happens when I actually have some counter space!
Gnocchi though--oh, gnocchi! It is SOOOOO worth the effort. (Of course, it also helps that Mike's the one who makes it.) Mike has made it a few times, and here is what he says:
Potatoes: some people will say you need to use a certain kind of potato. Truth be told, he's used reds, golds, and russets. It doesn't matter, as long as it equals about one large russet potato.
1. Boil in enough water to just cover the potato. (You may need to add more as it evaporates.) NOTE: Don't put the potato into the water after it's boiling. They should heat up together. This prevents the skin from loosening and floating around in the water.
2. The potato is done when it's soft enough to poke a fork into but doesn't break apart. At this point, take it out and with a hand mixer or a potato masher, break the potato up. It should
come out grainy more than whipped. (You can peel it if you want to, but he never does.)
3. Add a beaten egg to the potato and mix it in. Add salt and pepper, and even garlic if you like.
4. Add flour by the handful to the potato until it forms a dough that is soft but not sticky. It takes about two of Mike's handfuls, but just add it and mix until it feels right.
5. Break off a chunk of the dough and put on a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough into a snake about a half-inch thick. With a sharp knife,
cut the snake into pieces about an inch wide. You'll need plenty of counter space so the cut gnocchi don't touch each other. Repeat with the rest of the dough until it's all done.
6. In a pot of boiling water, maintained at medium-high, drop the gnocchi in one at a time, not by handfuls. They still can't touch! Pay attention because the gnocchi will cook quickly--between 30 and 60 seconds. As soon as they rise to the surface, spoon them out into a dish. Repeat until they're all finished.
7. We used pesto for our sauce, Classico was really good, and topped it with freshly grated Parmesan. We sauteed mushrooms, bell pepper, tomatoes, olives, and onion and mixed those in with the finished gnocchi and served it with seasoned chicken, a salad, and bread sticks.
Altogether, there was enough food to easily feed us and our three guests. Without the breadsticks and chicken, it might have been more a three-person meal. You can adjust it as necessary.