The word gnocchi may derive from the Italian word nocchio, meaning a knot in wood, or from nocca (meaning knuckle). It has been a traditional Italian pasta type of probably Middle Eastern origin since Roman times. It was introduced by the Roman Legions during the enormous expansion of the empire into the countries of the European continent. All gnocchi made of flour and water is considered pasta, while dumplings made of different ingredients are called gnocchi. In the past 2,000 years, each country developed its own specific type of small dumplings, with the ancient gnocchi as their common ancestor. In Roman times, gnocchi were made from a semolina porridge-like dough mixed with eggs, and are still found in similar forms today, particularly Sardinia’s malloreddus (although they do not contain eggs).
The use of potato is a relatively recent innovation, occurring after the introduction of the potato to Europe in the 16th century. Today, gnocchi are primarily made with potatoes which have become traditional in Italy.
Serves 103 pounds potatoes (about 6 large baking potatoes) 1 large egg 1 teaspoon Kosher salt 2 cups all-purpose flour
1. Steam the whole potatoes until they are soft. While still warm, peel and pass through vegetable mill or potato ricer onto clean pasta board.
2. Whisk together the egg and salt and drizzle over the riced potatoes.
3. Sprinkle the flour over the mixture.
4. Work the ingredients together, add flour to reduce stickiness.
5. When the mixture holds together, knead until the dough is smooth and soft, continuing to flour the work surface to prevent sticking and adding flour if the dough is sticky.
6. Working with a baseball size of the dough at a time, roll the dough into a long ¾” diameter. With a bench scraper, cut them into 1” long pieces.
7. Form ridges on the gnocchi by using a gnocchi board or rolling them over the back of a dinner fork. Transfer the gnocchi to a lightly floured baking sheet while rolling out remaining dough.
8. You may refrigerate the uncooked gnocchi for up to 3 hours or freeze them separated on the baking sheet and then transfer them into a covered container and store in the freezer for several weeks.