Impress your shelter-at-home crew with this comfort food star.

By Stacey Ballis
April 15, 2020
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Never before has simple comfort food been more fundamental. The need we all have to balance sustenance with pleasure is essential to getting through our days right now, and while that looks different for everyone, carbs seem to be at the core of a lot of our cookery.

Between homemade breads of all sorts, plenty of baking, and dinners that seem to celebrate the best of what starches have to give us, Instagram is suddenly full of noodle-based casseroles, homemade pizzas, fried rice, and potatoes in every style from mashed to fried. People are digging out grandmother’s recipes for chicken and dumplings, lasagnas,and shepherd’s pies. I myself made the first turkey tetrazzini casserole that I have produced in more than a decade.

The need to focus on pantry ingredients while indulging in our COVID carbo-loading means that most of us are relying upon dried pastas when we want to get our inner Nonna on. And while fresh pasta, for those who know how, can be a fun and satisfying project, it does take a while to make. Resting and rolling and drying dough may be a fine weekend project, but not necessarily one that’s going to get you dinner on the table this Tuesday between Zoom meetings and homeschooling your kids (or indulging your parent-friends’ complaints about homeschooling during Zoom Happy Hours).

No better time to get to know the magic and wonder that is homemade gnocchi.

Get to know your gnocchi

Gnocchi is one of those foods that implies complication and nuance. After all, for every plate of ethereal puffs of light dumplings enhanced by rich sauces that we have all indulged in at favorite restaurants, there may have been a bowl of stodgy, stick-to-your-teeth leaden lumps that feel more like punishment than celebration. Packaged gnocchi for home cooking, unless purchased from some artisanal pastaficeria, tend to be of the stiffer sort. And scratch recipes vary wildly, making them a bit nervewracking to attempt at home.

But never has the time been better to learn to make a great homemade gnocchi. For one, the ingredients are inexpensive and likely already in your pantry: potatoes, plus egg to bind and flour for structure. With its simple flavor, gnocchi can be easily dressed with browned butter, some fresh herbs, and grated cheese, or crowned with a simmered-all-day Sunday ragu. And once you know how, it comes together in a flash. Further, making gnocchi is a kid-friendly cooking project: The dough is like edible Play-Doh, so it’s fine to let your little ones help with the rolling. The potatoes keep things tender, so no risk of heaviness. Once you have made them yourself, you’ll find they have a place in your regular repertoire!

This recipe for light, pillowy gnocchi is easy to make from scratch. Combine it with your favorite pasta sauce, whether that be a Bolognese, cream sauce, or pesto. And prepare for calls for making it every week!

Get the recipe here: Basic Gnocchi