I mentioned last week that we'd picked up a big bag of potatoes and were looking for ways to use them up. We had gone to my mother's for dinner and she made gnocchi for us which made me remember how much I love gnocchi. I'd just wished she'd made about double!
I've bought the imported, vacuum-packed gnocchi from Italy before and loved it but living frugally means that spending several dollars on a pound of pasta isn't always the best use of our money. Especially when regular pasta can be had for less than a dollar a pound bulk.
But that's okay. Living frugally doesn't have to mean living badly. I think we eat better on our restricted grocery budget than we ate when we had money coming in regularly. We eat more veggies, make more from scratch and avoid more chemicals than we did when we could buy whatever we wanted at the store.
Was it worth it? Let's break it down. Since spices are difficult to calculate and extremely light, I'm going to go with a flat rate for all three:
- Potatoes at 10c per pound = 13c
- Flour at 55c per pound = 9c
- Spices = 10 c
Total: 32 cents.
That's it! And it makes enough gnocchi for two meals for two. Omitting spices brings it down to less than a quarter.
Of course, making it into a full meal, as below, adds more expense, but not that much. I'll spare you the details, but based on my quick back-of-the-napkin calculations, dinner cost about $5.75 for two. The local restaurant that serves gnocchi in my town charges about $13 per plate! Plus, I don't know what's in it or how many chemicals, fats, preservatives and other nasties are hiding within.
Anyway, gnocchi are pretty easy to make, tasty and filling. Using a ricer or a grinder results in a fluffy, light texture and they cook in less than two minutes. We both loved it and based the sauce off of my favorite way to cook pasta, though I omitted the goat cheese sauce in favor of shaved Parmesan and lemon juice. It's also easy to convert for vegans. I hope you give it a try!
Garlic Gnocchi [printable recipe]
Adapted from Cooking Light
Serves 4 to 6
- 20 oz baking potatoes, scrubbed
- 2.5 oz flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp dried parsley
- 1 tsp minced, dried garlic
Scrub potatoes well and pierce several times with a fork. Place in the oven directly on the rack and heat oven to 425°. Bake potatoes for about an hour. Remove and cut in half, allowing to cool until you can handle them. Scoop out the flesh and set the skins aside1.
If you have a ricer2, force potatoes through into a large bowl.
If you have a meat grinder, fit it with a coarse disc and grind the potatoes into a large bowl.
If you don't have either, mash them puppies. It'll be fine, just not as light or fluffy.
Stir flour, garlic, parsley and salt into the potatoes and begin making a rough dough. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead it into a smooth dough. Form it into a ball and cut into quarters. Roll each quarter into a long rope about 20 - 24"3 long. Cut the rope into little pieces about three-quarters of an inch long4.
If you want to be fancy and authentic, press each piece against the tines of a fork. You will have stripes on one side and an indentation from your thumb on the other. I didn't bother.
Lay out the gnocchi onto a lined sheet pan. This recipe makes enough for four to six, so you might want to freeze some for later.
To cook, drop into boiling water and remove when they float - about 90 seconds. Frozen gnocchi will take a minute longer.
- Can you believe the original said to discard the skins?! No way! Either eat them up right there, like my husband and I did, or turn them into potato skins by sprinkling some cheese and cooked bacon over then broiling briefly.
- I don't have a ricer. I had the opportunity to get one for a reasonable price in Liepāja but I didn't. Luckily, there's another way without adding a monotasker to the kitchen.
- About 50 - 60 cm.
- About 2 cm.
Garlic Gnocchi with Lemon, Leek and Thyme [printable recipe]
Adapted from Cooking Light
- 1/2 recipe Garlic Gnocchi
- 2 leeks, white and light green parts only, sliced
- 3/4 cup (about 120 g) shallots, minced
- 4 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
- 1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes, sliced
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp (about 1 ounce) fresh Parmesan, shaved
- 1 tbsp fresh thyme, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- salt and pepper
Over moderate heat, heat butter and olive oil. Once the butter begins to foam, add the shallots and garlic. Saute for 2 to 3 minutes, then add the herbs and spices, followed by the leeks. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until leek is tender and soft. Stir in walnuts, sun-dried tomatoes and lemon juice and remove from heat. Serve over gnocchi and sprinkle with Parmesan shavings.