Gnocchi Lessons

There are patient people in this world, there are not patient people and there are not patient people still more patient than me.

Patient people do not:

  • Stand over their sink eating cold leftovers directly out of the container until someone walks by and says “that tastes better hot.” At which point the impatient person sticks the food in the microwave for a few seconds before starting to eat it at room temperature. At which point someone walks by shakes their head and asks “is it hot?” “Eh, it’s fine,” the impatient person responds.
  • Roll down car windows to scream at other drivers (which I would never ever do anyway, even if a conceited driver totally deserved it for the unbelievably obnoxious hand gesture he made – obnoxious not vulgar – who does that?).
  • Interrupt people’s stories they started telling unasked because the story has already been heard before, though not told by the same person.
  • Bang keyboards, throw headsets, become furious when a bus driver stops to pick up or let off people…

I might be incorrectly using patience to cover up other faults like laziness, good manners and compassion.

Patience isn’t a problem when it requires three hours on marmalade, cutting out four dozen gingerbread cookies, or kneading bread by hand that will then require three rises. But these things just seem so worth it.

I believe that it runs to a subconscious time vs. pleasure graph. On the y-axis we have time and on the x-axis we have expected (or known) pleasure. Anything that falls in the shaded area under the line may be eaten/made. Anything over, nope, sorry, tossed out. For example, cold macaroni and cheese requires almost no time – plot point very near bottom – and is expected to give a little immediate pleasure – plot point in bottom left corner. Examine data…ok to eat. Another example: homemade roasted butternut squash ravioli with blue cheese alfredo sauce. Examining the data we see it’s very time intensive – roasting, mashing, rolling, problems with rolling, filling, cutting, folding, problems with folding — but the taste is incredible with morale-boosting bonus points for being way cheaper than buying same item at the grocery store. Result? Plot points fall on upper right side, but still within shaded area.  Gnocchi — requiring boiling, mashing, combining, finicky fork shapes, unpronounceable name and not including any fond eating memories — always plots outside that mental line of demarcation.

A friend, Charlie, swore by gnocchi recently, but I swept his suggestion away. Feeling guilty (as so often happens after an impatient action) I thought I’d give it a go. There was also this butternut squash staring at me from my counter, disappointed in me.  It’s been a while since I took on a foreign multi-step cooking item and I, Charlie, and the squash all seemed to feel I needed a challenge.

What is my new consensus on gnocchi’s location on the graph? Not a convert.

You’re all thinking “you had it out for gnocchi from the beginning.”

But, I didn’t. I swear, I love butternut squash and this is the first one I’ve had this winter. While I was making this and watching cut up potatoes, butternut squash, seasonings and flour turn into this compact, bread like dough all I could think was “cool, I can totally do this.” Then, it all went wrong and my tone turned to”stupid homemade gnocchi.” Flattened discs and fork tine marks were beyond me, so I first gave up on that. While cooking it I couldn’t figure out what was done and slightly overdone and so threw out two batches of really overdone.

Not for one second do I blame the recipe, Butternut Squash Gnocchi, but it’s not included anyway.

Instead here is the pesto I topped it with – I’m head over heels for it. Unfortunately, this is an old find from a past pesto search and I’ve no idea where it came from. Unspoken credit goes to whomever came up with this. The only change I made was that the salted and roasted pistachios were on sale and the unsalted unroasted were not. I chose the cheaper one and skipped the roasting part. Also, I did not have ground cardamom and substituted half ground cloves half ground ginger. The original recipe is included.

Pistachio-Cilantro Pesto

1 cup unsalted raw pistachios
2 cups fresh cilantro leaves, packed
4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
¾ teaspoon salt
¾ cup plus 5 tablespoons olive oil (or until desired consistency)

Toast pistachios in 400° oven until golden, about 7 minutes. In processor, chop pistachios. Chop garlic. Add in cilantro, lemon juice, salt and cardamom, chop. Gradually add in olive oil.

6 thoughts on “Gnocchi Lessons

  1. Okay, hear me out, and if afterwards your gnocchi-hate prevails, I’ll understand. Childhood memories of making gnocchi in Paraguay notwithstanding, I think I can remain unbiased. Gnocchi is deceptively simple, when it actually takes some practice to achieve light, fluffy and beautifully-formed little pillows of potato perfection. They need minimal mixing and handling so as not to turn the glutin into Elmer’s glue pellets. Also, they’re done just as soon as they float to the top of a gentle boil.
    I’m a purist, so prefer mine plain, and napped with a red sauce.
    May the gnocchi gods be with you!


    • I’ll consider becoming a convert. I’m already thinking of trying it again far in the future, but with a recipe that cut them out with a round cookie cutter and then baked it – no boiling.


  2. Baked instead of boiled? Madre de Dio! I’ve never heard of this mysterious gnocchi cookie of which you speak. Now I’m intrigued.


  3. Okay, so not too keen on baked gnocchi chips, and am willing to pass along my gnocchi-making skilz. Let me know if you’d like to host a small class of people interested in learning and we’ll put them to work. Then you can REALLY give your final verdict on “neeohkee.”


  4. Pingback: White Wine Pasta ’cause it’s not Prohibition « by: The Common Cook

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