A very dear friend from near Milan, Italy, gave me this recipe for gnocchi con bolognese. If you are not familiar with gnocchi, it is usually made with potatoes and sometimes with ricotta and is a delightfully comforting smooth creamy type of pasta.
2 – lbs or 1 kg of potatoes (this was about 6 – 8 potatoes), cooked, peeled & riced or mashed (I cooked mine in the microwave)
1 – egg
1 – c. Flour
Sprinkling of nutmeg
Salt & pepper to taste
In a bowl or on the counter top, make a mound of flour. On top of that arrange the mashed potatoes and then make a depression in the middle. Pour the egg into the middle and stir in the salt, stirring with your fingers or a spoon until all ingredients are blended and a really soft dough is formed. The dough will be very delicate so, you have to be careful when handling it, and try not to add too much flour. Imagine my surprise when I cracked the egg and found it had 2 yolks in it!
Separate the dough into 4 or 5 pieces and roll out each piece into long strips with the palm of your hands.
Then, take a dinner knife and cut each strip into 1 inch pieces. The classic pattern on the gnocchi is made by rolling the back of a fork over each 1 inch piece.
Cook the gnocchi in a pan of salted boiling water. I cooked mine in chicken broth, which added a nice flavor. The gnocchi drops to the bottom when you first put it in the pan and when it is done, it will float to the top.
For the bolognese sauce, I decided on a vegetarian style sauce, if you want meat in it, you can add ground beef or pork or a combination of the two:
1 – 15 oz. can chopped tomatoes in their own juice
1 – 8 oz. can tomato paste
2 – cloves garlic, diced
1 – medium onion, diced
2 – T. olive oil
1 carrot, diced
1/2 eggplant, diced ( had some in my freezer from last summer)
salt & pepper to taste
1/4 c. red wine (optional)
Sautee the garlic & onion in the olive oil, add the carrots and cook until softened. Add the eggplant and continue to cook. Add seasonings to taste and the tomatoes and tomato paste, and the wine. My sauce was a little thick, so I put some broth in it too. Either vegetable broth or beef or chicken broth will work. Stir all together and cook for 15 – 30 minutes.
Arrange the cooked gnocchi on a plate and top with the bolognese sauce.
P.s. – I bagged up my gnocchi after I formed them, and put them in the freezer. Although, this is a good idea for preparing ahead, I found that uncooked frozen gnocchi just falls apart in the boiling water. I think perhaps it is best to cook the gnocchi and then freeze it. I was able to cook the frozen gnocchi in the microwave on a plate and it seemed to cook ok that way.