Here's a great variation on the classic Italian potato gnocchi: potato and chickpea gnocchi, which a vegetarian friend sent me. It's egg-free, and instead of wheat or other cereal flour, it uses chickpea flour, giving the usually bland gnocchi a delicious nutty taste. They're easy to make, but require some prep time, about 45 minutes.
The key to all gnocchi is the timing: the dough must be worked when the potatoes are hot, else it won't hold together. So it's a great recipe to make with a helper or two. I remember gnocchi as a Sunday lunch meal, when my maternal grandparents would visit: my mom would be cooking away behind steaming pots and pans, while my grandmother sat at the kitchen table with us grandchildren, mixing the piping hot potato dough, rolling it out, and then helping us cut it and shape it. Gnocchi were an extended-family affair. In my memories of Sundays growing up, my grandparents are always present, sitting at a cluttered table in a busy kitchen.
If you'd like to try these potato & chickpea gnocchi, here's the recipe. The ingredients for the classic Italian potato gnocchi are on Giallo Zafferano, in Italian, and Food Network, in English (and somewhat adapted).
POTATO AND CHICKPEA GNOCCHI WITH SAGE & GARLIC INFUSED OLIVE OIL
(for a family of 4/5, but if you have voracious teenage boys, this won't be enough: either you double the ingredients, or make a hearty second course as well)
For the gnocchi dough:
200 gr chickpea flour
100 gr corn starch
(optional: warm milk)
For the infused oil:
extra virgin olive oil (about ⅓ cup)
2 cloves garlic
1) Make gnocchi dough:
- toast the chickpea flour in pan over low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, for about 10 minutes
- boil or steam peeled potatoes in salted water until cooked
- mash the potatoes immediately, and mix in the chickpea flour and the corn starch
- knead and bring dough together (I add a little warm milk)
2) Shape gnocchi:
While still hot, roll out the dough into 2 cm thick cylinders, and cut them into 1 cm pieces. Traditionally, these pieces are then rolled off a fork or a wooden gnocchi tool. Strictly speaking, this step isn't necessary, though it gives the gnocchi a little more structure, and makes their texture less doughy.
2) Infuse the oil:
In a large skillet, over low heat, simmer sage leaves and chopped garlic in olive oil for a couple of minutes, until infused. Remove from heat and set aside.
3) Cook gnocchi:
In a large pan, boil salted water, then drop in gnocchi, a handful at the time. Wait until they float to the surface, then remove from the water with a strainer, drain well, and put them in the skillet with the infused oil. Repeat until you've cooked all the gnocchi.
4) Serve & enjoy.
This is the easy part!
PS I've added this recipe to the Tool Box, in the Italian Family-Style Recipe Basket. Buon appetito!