Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Gnocchi in Arrabbiata Sauce

When I lived in Rome, one of my favorite meals was Gnocchi All'arrabbiata.  Arrabbiata in Italian literally means angry, so Arrabbiata sauce is your traditional red sauce with a spicy kick.  The trattorias would make gnocchi from scratch every Thursday night and there was just something about having it fresh vs. from a package.  For those who have never tried Gnocchi, it is a dumpling like pasta made from a base of potatoes and is like eating a piece of heaven.  When I got home from my time in Rome, I knew I had to continue the Italian tradition of fresh gnocchi with spicy sauce!

To make the Arrabbiata Sauce:

  • 1 Tablespoon Crushed Red Pepper
  • 1 Can Whole Tomatoes
  • 1 Can Tomato Paste
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 2 Tablespoons Minced Garlic
  • Salt (about 1 tablespoon, but add to taste)
  • Black Pepper (about 1/2 tablespoon, but add to taste)

Pour olive oil into a sauce pan and begin letting it warm over medium heat.  Add crushed red pepper and garlic and let them sauté until the garlic is brown.  Put your whole tomatoes and tomato paste into a blender and puree until combined and smooth.  Once olive oil mixture is golden, combine tomato puree from blender.  Cook over medium heat until the sauce begins to turn dark red.  Add salt and black pepper to taste.

Our cabinet lights made this look so eerie!

To make the Gnocchi:

  • 4 Russet Potatoes
  • 2 Eggs
  • 2 Cups All Purpose Flour
  • Dash of salt
  • To make a bigger batch, the ratio of these items is as follows:  1 egg and 1 cup of flour to every 2 potatoes. 

Fill a large pot with water.  Add salt and bring to a boil.  Add the potatoes and cook until tender.  Once tender, remove the potatoes from the water and place them on a clean dish towel or cloth.  

Using the cloth, rub the exterior of the potatoes (one at a time) to remove the skins.  The potatoes will be extremely hot and the cloth will both protect your hands and assist with removing the skins.  Be sure to remove the skins as soon as possible because the potato will be harder to peel as it cools.

The next step is to either use a potato ricer (made specifically for processing potatoes into grain like pieces) or cheese grater to the break down the potatoes.   If you use a cheese grater, the process will be a little more difficult and messy, but the results will essentially be the same (the potato will be more starchy with this method, but it shouldn't affect the quality of your gnocchi).  Whatever you do, don't "mash" the potatoes with a fork!  This will "hurt" the potato and create a slimy product--yuck!

Let the potatoes cool for ten to fifteen minutes--long enough that raw eggs can safely be added to the mixture without cooking.    When cool, add eggs and flour and gently incorporate the ingredients into a dough with your hands.  Be careful of over-kneading.  The dough should be light and airy.  More flour can be added if it is too sticky.   Be sure to remember that the dough should retain moisture, but not be tacky.

Cut the dough into manageable sections (I usually cut it in half)  Roll the dough out 1/8th of an inch thick and cut into sections about 1/2 inch.  To shape the gnocchi, hold a fork in one hand a place the a section of dough against the tines rolling and curling the at the same time.  The gnocchi should curl into shape with ridges that help hold your sauce.  This takes practice, and if you are short on time or discouraged you can also roll the gnocchi into oval shaped balls with your hands (like you would do with play dough).  If you choose this method, be careful of overworking the dough.

Boil some water with olive oil and salt.  Cook the gnocchi in batches, dropping them into the boiling water 20-30 at a time.  You will know when they are done cooking because they will float back up to the top of the water.  Use a slotted spoon to remove them 5-10 seconds after they begin to float.  Once all of the gnocchi is cooked, finish with sauce and enjoy!

This meal seems like it has a lot of steps, but it is incredibly easy to make with very few ingredients.  It is my go-to meal when we need to get groceries, we have lots of people coming over, or I just want something tasty!

I hope you enjoy!

This post is linked with What's Cookin' Wednesday at Buns in My Oven!

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