Tonight I decided to make gnocchi from scratch from Antoinette Savill’s book, “The Sensitive Gourmet.” I’d only made kabocha (Japanese pumpkin) gnocchi from a Japanese cookbook, and while I enjoyed it I always felt somewhat bad that I’d never tried a more traditional recipe. So, I was thumbing through my unloved cookbooks and found this recipe for Gnocchi that called my name. Poor Antoinette’s cookbooks have lived an unfulfilled life in my house- she tends to use gourmet gluten free ingredients that are more easily found in Europe than in America, and sometimes her recipes just don’t seem that accessible. However, after hearing people rave about a gluten free gnocchi available at SOME Whole Foods but not available at MY Whole Foods, I had a powerful hunger for some gnocchi, so decided to give it a try. Her “Gnocchi with Walnut and Lemon Sauce” became “Gnocchi with Pecan and Lemon Sauce,” because we were out of walnuts and prefer pecans.
First, you boil so called “floury” potatoes, and then mix them together with seasoning, eggs, and an ungodly amount of potato flour. This latter is probably not the flour I would have chosen, but I bowed to her instructions and sacrificed the bulk of my potato flour (usually only used in minute quantity in Bette Hagman recipes) to this experiment. Meanwhile you make an olive oil, garlic and nut sauce, with lemon zest and lots of lemon juice. Then you let the potato mixture cool before shaping them into little gnocchi shapes. and boiling them for 30 seconds. Drizzle sauce on top of the cooked gnocchi, serve and enjoy. (For those interested in trying this recipe- it is on page 31 of “The Sensitive Gourmet.”)
I followed the recipe carefully and also roasted some broccoli with my adaption of Rachel Ray’s recipe as a nice side dish. Then- I plated my precious gnocchi (my precious, my precious…) and garnished with broccoli.
Estimation? Because of the preparation method, to my mind the gnocchi were more like slightly soggy dumplings than the lighter kabocha gnocchi that I had made previously. Also, the potato flour has a very distinctive flavor that brings to mind that oh so gourmet ingredient- instant potato buds- and marred the more delicate flavor of the freshly made and mashed potatoes. Were I to make them again, I would use a flour that was milder in flavor. I also think I want to look at different preparation methods- Boiling may be a necessary step, but perhaps if I sauteed them lightly in seasoned oil afterwards they would both be more flavorful and have better texture. The sauce itself was rather nice, although very strong on the lemon. I also felt that the pecans, while nice, did not really carry their weight- perhaps browning or caramelizing the pecans before adding them to the sauce would have been more effective. The broccoli was a very good addition to the dish- adding needed interest, color, and fresh, crunchy roasted vegetable flavor. After enjoying the meal, I froze leftovers in four individual servings of 6 gnocchi each in quart freezer bags, and look forward to having them as a light meal later on a busy night. I also put two servings in the refrigerator to enjoy the next day.
I love making this kind of elaborate dish with a fabulous and decadent sauce, but I felt that this recipe was not the ideal recipe for my palate. I plan to look further and find other recipes, even those that are not gluten free, and then adapt them myself for a more satisfying end product. While this dish was pleasant, I would have to give it a 6.5/10- the effort did not have a proportionate payoff, and DH did not care for it at all. Neither of us are gnocchi experts, but we both preferred the smaller and lighter kabocha gnocchi that I had made previously (and, I might add, from a “Regular” cookbook). Nevertheless, I see future gnocchi experiments in my future and I would encourage anyone to try making them.