Preparing for Winter, Italian Style

Fall is my favorite time of year for many reasons, my birthday, the changing of the leaves, and the food. I, of course, love the traditional fall foods that use pumpkin and spice as their main ingredients. However, my family doesn’t have a single recipe that uses those. As a family from a rural farming community in Italy, our seasonal dishes are based on what my great grandmother, Nana, would have done in her home town. Fall is the time of year where things would be prepared to be stored for the winter. In the late summer home made tomato sauce would be made and canned to store. Potatoes and flour would be stockpiled. With these ingredients already in surplus around the house, the only natural thing to do is make gnocchi (an Italian potato pasta.) While we don’t necessarily stockpile like my Nana did, gnocchi has become a fall tradition in my home.

You will need:

  • 3-4 potatoes
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 bag of flour (and a little extra to sprinkle on the dough, just in case)
  • pasta sauce
  • a pot of boiling water

Peel, cut, and boil the potatoes, just as you would to make home made mashed potatoes. Mash the potatoes when ready. Let the potatoes cool, then make into a mound on a clean surface. Add the flour and egg and knead. This will take time and arm strength, but don’t give up till the dough is the consistency of bread dough and not sticky (this is when you may need extra flour to get rid of stickiness.) Separate the dough into many smaller mounds. Roll those mounds into long links, cut the links into 1 inch pieces. Using your thumb, roll the pieces into little balls, leaving an indent in the middle. Boil the little dumplings in water, just like you would with any other pasta. Heat the sauce at the same time, in a separate pan. Combine at the end and enjoy!

In my family we like to make a large quantity and set several pounds, individually packaged, aside to freeze and eat throughout the winter. A word of caution, understand how much flour you will need if you make more than I directed. I recently attempted to make a HUGE batch of gnocchi, so my family would have some to freeze and I would be able to take some back to school to share with my friends and roommates. I didn’t consider how much flour it would take when i boiled an entire bag of potatoes. There wasn’t enough flour in the house to make that dough turned out, so I ended up wasting a bag of flour, a bag of potatoes, and eight hours of my time.

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One Response to Preparing for Winter, Italian Style

  1. jcrhetblog says:

    I recently had fresh gnocchi for the first time. Delicious! When I have a little time to play, I’m definitely going to try your recipe. Thanks.

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