Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Spinach and Bacon Gnocchi (Italian Gnocchi from scratch)

After a long spell of Vegetarian Fare, I was in the mood to break that spell with something I haven't tried before. In that idea-craving mental state, I went through my resources- my cookbooks, my magazines and my bookmarked recipes. And finally decided on this cute little pasta that is simple to make and tastes really good.
Gnocchi: Gnocco (singular) is a thick, soft pasta that can be made from semolina, or wheat flour or all purpose flour.
It is usually eaten as a first course and replaces pasta and the soup course. I have always heard from Italian friends that they never buy Gnocchi from the supermarkets, but its always made at home. I had a lot of apprehension in making something that was totally outside my comfort zone. But they assured me, that is exactly how they felt about making samosas from scratch too! And I knew from experience how tasty the result could be if I succeeded.

Once I made up my mind, things got easier. There was no fancy ingredients to be bought, there were no lengthy preparations to be done. I had all the ingredients at home. So here was how I got to the end product.


For the Gnocchi:
2 cups all purpose flour or whole wheat flour
8 oz ricotta cheese
1 tsp garlic powder
1 egg
Salt- to taste

For the Spinach and Bacon Gnocchi:
1/2 stick butter
 2 tbsp fresh, minced garlic
2 tbsp chopped bacon
A bag of fresh baby spinach
1 tsp dried basil or 3 tbsp fresh chopped basil
freshly grated Parmesan- to top
1 recipe Gnocchi
Salt and Pepper - to taste


1. Mix together all the Gnocchi Ingredients. You could use a hand mixer or stand mixer. (I used my hands. I knead chapathi flour on an almost daily basis for my dinner. Kneading by hand comes naturally to me.)

2. Knead it until it forms a stiff but nonstick dough.
3. Cut the dough into 8 equal parts.

4. Stretch each portion and roll into a long cylinder, of ~ 1/2 inch thickness, then cut into tiny bits.

5. Take each bit and using the back of a fork, roll into gnocchi and dry them out a bit in a single layer for an hour.
I used 2 forks because my single forked attempts kept giving it a gnocchi shape only on one side. If you are not sure how to go about it, search for gnocchi videos on you tube. There are some really good ones out there, discussing technique.

Now this step takes hours if you have a larger batch to roll. Shamelessly employ your kids, neighbor's kids or anyone else who makes the mistake of walking by when you are doing this dread-work.

6. Now after what will feel like the longest hours of your life, once you are done with the rolling of gnocchi, let the rolled Gnocchi bits dry out for an hour in a single layer. You could also skip the drying and go directly to the boiling, if you want it faster.

7. Boil a pot of salted water. (You may add a tablespoon of oil to this water, though these Gnocchi wont stick to each other unless you cook a lot of gnocchi in one go.) Lower the heat to a simmer - a medium flame, should do.
8. It is recommended that you add the gnocchi into this water in small batches. Do not stir. When they float up on their own, they are done. Remove with a slotted spoon or spider and keep aside.

Now, following are the directions to make this yummy, simple dish that I made with my Gnocchi:

 Spinach and Bacon Gnocchi

1. In a pan, melt 1/2 stick butter and add 2 tbsp fresh, minced garlic to it. Saute for a minute, then add 2 tbsp chopped bacon to it until cooked. It could be crisp or soft according to your preference.

2. To this, add baby spinach and stir until the spinach is wilted. Add fresh ground pepper and 1 tsp dried basil or 3 tbsp fresh chopped basil. Stir.

3. Add the cooked gnocchi and stir gently. Check salt.

4. Remove from fire, serve immediately with freshly grated Parmesan on top.

Enjoy! :-)

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