• Maria Gracia Santillana Linares

Cooking for One: Gnocchi Edition

I’ve always loved cooking for other people. Dinner parties were my go-to in pre-pandemic times, organizing movie and wine nights with my friends until we’d inevitably get hungry and either make pasta, bake cookies, or order pizza. But beyond dinner parties, even just shared meals with my roommates quickly became the highlight of my nights – extra chicken, extra mushrooms, whenever I had extra food, dinner for one would become dinner for two.


So when the pandemic up-rooted all of our lives and dinner parties were no longer safe, and a cancellation of study abroad programs meant I had a completely new living situation, cooking was my only constant. I remember walking into my apartment that first day, excited to cook something for my roommates as a “welcome home” dish. I’d thought about preparing my signature salmon with roasted veggies and was on my way out to Trader Joe’s only to learn that they were both vegetarian.


After a miscalculated attempt to make Galentine’s day dinner for my friends, I was left with way too many potatoes to use. I’d originally planned to make an oven-baked salmon and potatoes dish for a dinner of eight, only I bought way too many potatoes that would’ve just gone to waste. I started the week by roasting some more potatoes, throwing them in the oven for an easy side for lunches and dinner, but a girl can only eat so many roasted potatoes before she goes crazy. So I thought about trying something new – gnocchi.


I’d seen a couple of Instagram and Tik Tok videos about people making their own gnocchi from scratch, and it seemed to be pretty easy and straightforward – boil potatoes, mix with flour, boil and you’re all set! So, in an attempt to use up the potatoes that had arguably been in my pantry for too long, I embarked on a gnocchi-making journey.


The small and round potato pasta turned out to be pretty simple to make, only requiring potatoes, flour, and eggs. The texture was also pretty good - doughy but not overly sticky, chewy but not bubblegum-esque. The recipe I used makes a pretty big portion (two weeks later and I still have some frozen pasta in my fridge), so I cooked some the night I made the dough and froze the rest.


Overall, the process was super fun - nothing screams productivity like a cooking break in the middle of midterms. The one thing I would suggest, and probably the one part where I went wrong, was freezing the gnocchi flat on a sheet tray. In my small, New York City fridge that is shared amongst my roommates, using essentially half of the freezer for just a sheet tray with gnocchis just wasn’t feasible. So I took a gamble, threw the pieces I had into a large ziploc bag, and hoped it would all work out fine. And it did! Except I still have large chunks of frozen gnocchi that stay that way when cooked. Not a huge deal if you’re not being fussy with the shape of them, but definitely something to consider.


Here's the recipe I used and some pictures from the process:

Ingredients

  • 2 large potatoes

  • 1 egg

  • 2 cups of flour

  • Salt

  • Pesto sauce

Preparation

  1. In a large pot, place both potatoes into tap water. Let boil and cook for about 25 minutes, until the potatoes are cooked but the peels are not popping off.

  2. Once cooked, remove from boiling water and run through cold water to stop the cooking process.

  3. Immediately peel each potato, being careful not to burn your hands.

  4. Using a potato masher, ricer, or just a simple fork, mash or fluff your potatoes into a bowl. Let cool until no more steam leaves the potatoes.

  5. Once cool, mix in one egg. Slowly add the flour in parts.

  6. Once about half of the flour has been mixed in, take out mixture and start kneading onto a floured surface, adding the remaining of the flour as needed.

  7. Roll out into dough “snakes,” and then cut into 1-inch pieces.

  8. Separate however much of the gnocchi you want to save for later. Throw into a ziploc bag and lay flat to freeze.

  9. In a pot of boiling water, put about a ¼ of the gnocchi and cook. Remove 1 minute after they have risen to the surface.

  10. In a large pan with a sauce of your choice, add the gnocchi and lightly coat with medium-low heat.

  11. Serve with grated cheese, and enjoy!


Recipe adapted from AllRecipes.com