Potato Gnocchi in Tomato Sauce

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My crazy cooking last week wore me out! One night, Jon got wontons, and just a night or two later he was treated to potato gnocchi. Yikes! That is a lot of cooking for week nights, hence the delay in posting.

I started off by cooking the potatoes in the microwave (I was not about to wait 45 minutes for them to boil!), and then peeling off the skins as soon as I could handle them. I tend to pick things up when they are too hot, and the potatoes were no exception, so there was some blowing on my fingers! After I peeled and mashed up the potatoes (lacking a ricer, the “proper” method), I spread them out to cool, and then added salt, pepper, and allspice.

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Next I added in the flour and flax eggs to make the gnocchi dough. I shaped the gnocchi by making long ropes of dough, cutting it into smaller pieces, and then pushing each piece down the back of a fork. Eventually, I ended up with a flock of gnocchi. Not quite as graceful as the herd of wontons, but still pretty impressive.
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While the water was heating up to cook the gnocchi, I whipped up a simple tomato sauce, starting with onions and garlic and then adding in some roughly puréed tomatoes.
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I always like to have the sauce ready before the first batch of gnocchi is cooked because then I can just put the gnocchi directly into the sauce.

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Once the sauce was simmering away, I started cooking the gnocchi in batches. You can tell they are done when they float to the top of the boiling water.

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Finally all the gnocchi was done and ready to be eaten. Yum!

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Potato Gnocchi with Tomato Sauce

For the gnocchi:
3 large potatoes, boiled (or cooked in the microwave!)
2 flax eggs (2 Tbsp ground flax seeds mixed with 6 Tbsp water)
1 cup whole wheat flour, plus more as needed to form dough
1 tsp ground allspice
Salt and pepper to taste

For the sauce:
1 onion, very finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 large (28 oz) cans diced tomatoes
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp dried basil

Cook the potatoes using your desired method (hint: microwave is faster!), and remove the skins as soon as they are cool enough for you to handle. If you have a ricer, put the potatoes through the ricer and spread in a thin layer to continue to cool. If you don’t have a ricer, you can use a hand masher, but try to incorporate as much air as possible – you don’t want actual mashed potatoes! Allow the potatoes to cool.

In a large pot, boil water. Meanwhile, gather the potatoes together, and make a well in the middle. Pour the flax eggs into the well, and sprinkle 1 cup flour around the potatoes. Add the allspice, salt, and pepper. Using your clean hands, mix everything together. Continue to add flour until you have a soft dough that holds together and isn’t too sticky. You don’t want to add too much flour or mix the dough too much, or the gnocchi will be tough and dense. Dense gnocchi just isn’t as good!

Test the dough by pinching off a small amount and placing it into the boiling water. The dough should stay together and float to the surface in about 3-5 minutes. If your gnocchi falls apart and your dough is really moist, add more flour. If your gnocchi falls apart and the dough is really dry, you probably need to add a little extra water.

Start the tomato sauce by sautéing the onion and garlic until they are softened and flavorful. I wanted a smoother tomato sauce, so I used my immersion blender to mostly purée the diced tomatoes. You can skip this step if you want a chunkier sauce. Mix in the balsamic vinegar, basil, salt and pepper. Cover and allow to simmer while forming and cooking the gnocchi.

Separate the dough into quarters. Roll each quarter into ropes about 3/4″ thick. Using a dough cutter, cut the ropes into 1/2″ segments. Using the back of a fork, push the gnocchi down the fork. You should get nice ridges on one side, and an indentation from your thumb on the other side.

Once all the gnocchi are formed and you’ve scraped all the extra potato mixture off your hands, cook the gnocchi in the salted boiling water in batches. Be sure to gently scrape the bottom of the pot to make sure none are sticking. The gnocchi will take 3-5 minutes to cook, and you’ll know they are done when they float to the top.

As each batch is finished, spoon the gnocchi directly into the tomato sauce. After all the gnocchi is finished, allow them to simmer in the sauce for a minute or two. Serve topped with freshly ground pepper and a little grated Parmesan, if you’re a cheese eater!

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