Gnocchi with Meat Ragu

by Matt on September 23, 2010

I have stated before that I am not much of a pasta person, but gnocchi is a completely different story. Those soft, little pillows of deliciousness just have something about them that regular pasta doesn’t have. I refer to them as “pillows of delight” ;)

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Have you ever had gnocchi?

Gnocchi are Italian potato dumplings that are normally made with potatoes and flour, but they can also be made with semolina, ricotta, or bread crumbs. They can even be made with sweet potatoes.

The great thing about gnocchi is that they go great with just about any sauce, from a simple tomato sauce, to a pesto sauce, or even an indulgent cheese sauce. They also pair equally well with a meat ragu, which is what I went for in this recipe.

If you serve this dish with a side of roasted vegetables or a salad, you have a balanced, hearty meal. It isn’t the quickest to prepare, but it makes up for the hassle with flavor.

Gnocchi With Meat Sauce

Meat Sauce

  • 1 batch of gnocchi, recipe follows
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3/4 pound grass-fed beef, ground
  • Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, finely chopped

Directions

  1. Prepare and cook the gnocchi according to the directions listed below.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Sauté the onion and garlic and until soft, which should be anywhere from 8 to 10 minutes.
  3. Add the grass-fed beef, salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Break up the meat with a spoon until it’s no longer pink inside, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the canned tomatoes and bring to a simmer.
  5. Let the sauce simmer for about 5 minutes to thicken. Stir in basil.
  6. Serve the gnocchi topped with the sauce. Garnish with cheese if desired.

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While I made up the sauce as I went along, I can’t take credit for the gnocchi.

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds medium russet potatoes
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg yolk, beaten
  • 1-1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Pierce potatoes in several spots with a fork. Bake directly on the center rack until tender when pierced with a knife, 45 minutes to 1 1/4 hours, depending on the size and type of your potatoes. Remove to a wire rack and let stand until cool enough to handle, 15 to 20 minutes.
  3. Scoop the insides out of the potato skins and push through a potato ricer fitted with a fine disc onto a clean counter. (If you don’t have a ricer, mash the potatoes until smooth.) Gather the potato into a mound on the counter, sprinkle with salt and let cool, about 15 minutes.
  4. Put a large pot of water on to boil.
  5. Pour egg yolk over the cooled potato and then sprinkle 1 cup flour on. Use a bench knife or metal spatula to gently fold the flour and egg into the potatoes until combined (it will not look like dough at this point). Gently squeeze, knead and pat the dough until it holds together and resembles biscuit dough or cookie dough. The dough will be a little sticky; if it’s very sticky, add more flour, about 1 tablespoon at a time, as necessary. Be careful not to overwork the dough: overworked dough will yield tougher gnocchi.
  6. Pat the dough into a 1 1/2-inch-thick disk and then divide it into 4 equal pieces. Working on a lightly floured surface with lightly floured hands, roll each portion into a 24- to 26-inch-long “snake,” 1/2 to 3/4 inch wide. Start at the center of the dough and roll out using your fingertips and very light pressure; gently pull the dough out as you roll. Cut the snake into 3/4-inch pieces. Use your fingertip to make an indentation (or “dimple”) in the center of each gnocchi. Place the gnocchi on a lightly floured baking sheet as they are made. Repeat with remaining dough.
  7. Adjust the heat so the water is at a gentle boil. Add about one-quarter of the gnocchi at a time. When the gnocchi float to the top, transfer to a parchment or wax paper-lined baking sheet with a slotted spoon. Continue boiling the gnocchi in batches until they are all cooked, returning the water to a gentle boil between batches.

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SO. GOOD.

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This just needs some cheese ;)

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

September 23, 2010 at 8:43 AM

I have never made gnocchi, but I’ve watched them make it on Top Chef! Yours looks quite good and I’d love to try them with sweet potatoes, that sounds delicious!
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September 23, 2010 at 9:01 AM

Gnocci is THE BOMB DIGGITY. Yum!
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September 23, 2010 at 9:03 AM

I had gnocchi last night as well – first time in YEARS. Loved it.
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September 23, 2010 at 11:06 AM

I love gnocchi, but I’m such a pasta person! It’s just not the same as spaghetti for me. Sure looks tasty, though!
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September 23, 2010 at 11:21 AM

Gnocchi = pasta + potatoes = similar concept to pierogies = CARBS WITH A SIDE OF CARBS. I’m all about that. Bring on the gnocchi!

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September 23, 2010 at 3:12 PM

I’m not much of a pasta person either. I mean, I like it, but it doesn’t always like me. Makes me feel sluggish and bloated. But gnocchi is awesome. I actually have some pumpkin gnocchi at home right now, might have to make that one soon :) Also love spaghetti squash as a pasta alternative.
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September 23, 2010 at 5:25 PM

I’m the same way. Not much a pasta fan, but give me gnocchi any day. So yummy! I’m determined to try making them someday. Maybe this weekend. :D
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September 23, 2010 at 7:59 PM

Wow – awesome! At first I saw the photo and said to myself, “I wonder what brand of gnocchi that is.” Cool that you made it yourself!

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September 23, 2010 at 8:33 PM

Never had Gnocchi and always wondered what it was. Thought it was like Ravioli or something ;) …but potatoes? Yes Sir please!

Anything with sauce, beef…and, YES CHEESE! Add the cheese :)
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September 24, 2010 at 1:10 AM

I’m impressed my man- that looks like a lot of work! I don’t know that I have the patience. I need to make something fun this weekend though while I have the time…any ideas?
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