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Gnocchi: A twist on an Italian favorite

Transport yourself to Italy without leaving your house. With this gnocchi recipe, you sure can.

There are many different types of gnocchi recipes.

Gnocchi, any time of the year, is fun to make and even more fun to eat. This recipe in particular is easy enough for the kids to help you make but fancy enough for a dinner party. You can make gnocchi ahead of time and freeze them until ready to serve.

Serving a plate of gnocchi with meatballs is a delicious change from your traditional spaghetti.

Gnocchi and meatballs

Gnocchi ingredients

1 pound potatoes, peeled and large diced

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons kosher salt plus more for boiling the potatoes

Pinch of nutmeg, optional

32 ounces of a good pantry pasta sauce, such as Raos

Extra-virgin olive oil, to prevent sticking

Basil leaves and or chopped flat-leaf parsley, optional garnishes

In a medium pot, add your potatoes and cover them with water. After adding in a small handful of salt to the pot, bring your potatoes to a boil until tender.

Drain the potatoes and put them through a ricer or mash them with a hand-held potato masher. I prefer to use my ricer, to get the potatoes thin and creamy. Set the mashed potatoes aside to cool, prior to making the dough.

When the potatoes are cool, add the rest of the ingredients and mix by hand until well-combined. Place your dough on to a lightly-flowered work surface. Knead the dough for about one minute until smooth. Cover the dough and let it rest for about ten minutes. Divide the dough into four equal pieces. With a little flour, roll each quarter piece of dough into a long snake. Cut the dough into small equal pieces, about ½ of an inch or to your liking. Place your thumb into the center of each piece to make an indent. They do not need to be rolled fancy with a gnocchi roller board or a fork, unless you would like to do so.

If you are going to freezer them, put them on a parchment-lined sheet pan and place them into the freezer until they are soli. Transfer them, once frozen, into a Ziploc baggy until ready to use.

Note: If you are going to cool them right away, bring a large pot of lightly-salted water to a boil. Place the gnocchi in the pot for about three to five minutes or until they float. To prevent the cooked gnocchi from sticking, drizzle in a little extra-virgin olive oil.

Meatball ingredients

½ pound ground beef

½ pound ground pork

½ cup panko breadcrumbs

¼ cup Parmesan cheese or pecorino

1 large egg, room temperature

2 tablespoons finely-chopped fresh parsley

2 tablespoons water

1 teaspoon Calabrian peppers stored in oil, finely chopped OR ¼ teaspoon of chili flakes

Salt and Pepper, to taste

Olive oil, for searing meatballs

In a large bowl, mix everything together just to combine. Do not overmix. Roll the meatballs, sear them in a pan with oil. Remove them and the excess oil from the pan. Place the pan back over medium low heat and add your sauce. Bring to a low simmer and introduce your meatballs back into the sauce. Cover the meatballs to cook for 15-20 minutes on medium low.

Plate your gnocchi, covering them with the meatballs and sauce. Garnish as you would like, with fresh basil leaves or parsley.

Sarah Schweitzer is dual-certified in Culinary Arts and Baking & Pastry from the Escoffier School of Culinary Arts (www.escoffier.edu). She is a former line cook for Chef Robert Irvine at “Fresh Kitchen by Robert Irvine” which was located at the Downtown Allentown Market. Sarah is currently working as a Sous-Chef and pastry chef at Ateira’s on First. She can be reached at sarah.schweitzer18@gmail.com.

Gnocchi and meatballs