Saffron Gnocchi

Oh gnocchi… love to eat them… hate to make them! These guys are tricky… one wrong move and you've got yourself two pounds of good for nothing potato pellets. I've attempted to make gnocchi a total of three times in my entire culinary history and each time they were mediocre at best. I had come to the conclusion that gnocchi was one of the foods not worth making (other foods in this category include masa and baguettes, IMO). Not only were they time consuming, but they demanded a certain amount of precision that I did not seem to possess. Light, airy, cloud-like gnocchi eluded me and I had resolved to satisfy my gnocchi cravings outside of my kitchen.
My attitude suddenly changed last week when I realized that I had no idea what I was doing. My technique was all wrong. I had been boiling my potatoes, which added moisture to them and as a result I had to add more flour to the dough. I had also been mashing the potatoes with a hand masher. This method did not yield the consistency needed for heavenly gnocchi. I received two essential tips for gnocchi making: 1. Bake your potatoes in a bed of salt to draw out moisture from the potatoes 2. Rice your baked potatoes with a tamis to get the finest consistency (Thanks, Frankie!). With these two rules to cook by, I had a renewed desire to make gnocchi. I just love  learning things like that. Does that make me a nerd? :)
After a quick trip to Surfas and a brand spanking new tamis in hand, I was ready to rock. I heated the oven to 400 degrees and laid about an inch of kosher salt on a sheet pan. I pricked my russet potatoes and laid them on top of the salt to cook until tender (1 hour). I had decided to jazz up the dumplings a bit by adding saffron. I toasted up a pinch  of saffron threads and crushed them up into a fine powder with a mortar and pestle. Afterwards, I moved onto the sauce. I toasted up some Marcona Almonds and pureed them with a bunch of flat-leaf parsley and olive oil for a simple accompaniment to the gnocchi. Once my potatoes were ready to go, I peeled them (watch your hands guys… the potatoes are piping hot still) and ran them through my tamis. I looked at my big pile of perfectly airy potato powder and got the feeling that this was going to be good. I let them potatoes cool down before adding my beaten egg, saffron and finally flour. I tried to knead the dough as little as possible and added just enough flour to get rid of any tackiness. I rolled the dough into strips and cut each strip into little squares of dough. The pillows of  dough proceeded to take a trip down my gnocchi board to get its sauce-holding ridges (as shown picture above).
I boiled some salted water. I threw them into the simmering water (not all at once of course) and once they floated to the surface, I fished them out. Next, I browned the gnocchi in a pan with butter. Once they got a nice golden crust on them, I piled them in the middle of the plate, drizzled the Marcona almond sauce around it and topped it all with a fried quail egg.

The gnocchi came out just the way I had always wanted it to. Light and airy on the inside, with just the slightest textural contrast from the browning. If you're feeling adventurous today, give it a try. It's not as intimidating as it looks, especially with a few pro tips.


  • Laurel

    06 Nov 2007 07:11 am

    [this is good] So cute!

  • reesie

    06 Nov 2007 06:11 pm

    Oh gnocchi……. I love you!

  • Patricia Scarpin

    07 Nov 2007 05:11 am

    You are such a teaser, Julie! :)

  • Meghan

    08 Nov 2007 06:11 pm

    Yum!  I’m looking forward to the full post.

  • RachJ

    11 Nov 2007 05:11 pm

    oh yum! Ive always wanted to try making gnocchi, you have just given me the inspiration and courage to try!! please could you write the actual recipe? I could google one, but since yours came out so well Id love to try it.. also excuse my ignorance but what is a tamis?

  • julie

    12 Nov 2007 03:11 pm

    Hi Rach! Yah for gnocchi-making! I used this Batali recipe as a general guideline for ingredients:,,FOOD_9936_5283,00.html
    I baked my potatoes in a bed of salt instead of boiling though. Don’t worry, I just learned what a tamis is too… it is sieve essentially. It looks like a spring form pan with a wire mesh covering the bottom. Good luck… I’m looking forward to your gnocchi post. :)

  • julie

    12 Nov 2007 05:11 pm

    Thanks Laurel. They look cute all ridged-up.

    Hi Reesie! I love gnocchi too.

    Patricia… Very few of us can be as diligent of a blogger as you are. Love your blog.

    Hi Meghan… hope the full post lived up to your expectations :) Thanks for stopping by

  • RachJ

    26 Nov 2007 09:11 pm

    I made the gnocchi!! Yaya! thanks for your tips julie. It came out great, but my photos came out crap, so I wont post them. 

    after your explanation on what a tamis is, I just ground my baked and peeled potatoes through a sieve with the back of a spoon. worked well.
    I served my gnocchi in a roux sauce with parsley and blue cheese. it was divine!! next time, I will toss with basil pesto from my garden I think..
  • julie

    05 Dec 2007 06:12 pm

    Glad to hear of your gnocchi success, Rach… can’t wait to try it with blue cheese… I’m a huge fan of stinky cheese :)


Leave a Comment

Posting your comment…

* Required fields