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Tuesday
Jul302013

Fried Lemon Gnocchi with Basil

I used to always make gnocchi with ridges - the way my mom taught me.  We would make the ridges by pressing the gnocchi on a fork and rolling it down the tines.  It works well.  I have also used a gnocchi board, which makes the ridges very easy.  But when I first had gnocchi in Italy, there were no ridges at all.  I thought maybe that was unusual, but I have had gnocchi several times after that in Italy made with no ridges.  So now I just don't bother with the ridges. If you want to press ridges into the gnocchi, though, by all means go for it. 

Some cooks will insist that you only use russet potatoes for gnocchi but I have made gnocchi using yellow potatoes also (as I did for this post).  Potatoes are one of the vegetables I only buy organic and my store just doesn't carry organic russets very often.  Actually, the most important thing is to have a dry potato to work with. That is why I bake my potatoes for gnocchi instead of boiling them.  Cool them until you can handle them and then peel them and make the gnocchi dough while the potatoes are still warm.  It will bind with the egg better and make a nice dough. 

I fried the gnocchi as a second step, something that you don't have to do at all but makes a real deeply flavored dish.  The key to frying the gnocchi and getting good color is to do it in small batches.  It goes very quickly, so don't worry about the gnocchi getting cold or anything.  You also don't want to add all of your liquid to the pan at once, because the gnocchi will end up steaming instead of frying.  So add the liquid in batches, also. 

Fried Lemon Gnocchi with Basil

 

 

I like to use a potato ricer to make the gnocchi, but you can grate the potatoes on a box cheese grater, if you don't have a ricer or don't want to get one.  

serves 3 as a main, 6 as a side

for a printable recipe, click here 

1 lb, 12 ounces potatoes (approximately - don't obsess too much on this)
2 eggs, room temperature
3 lemons, zested and juiced
1.5 cups flour (approximately)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
parmigianno cheese, for grating (optional) 

Bake the potatoes for about an hour at 400 degrees F. or until they are soft.  After they cool a bit and you can handle them, peel them while they are still a bit warm.  Put the potatoes through a potato ricer (or grate them) into a mound on the counter.  Make a well in the center and break two eggs into the well.  Add the lemon zest to the eggs and beat them with a fork a little bit. Slowly incorporate the potatoes into the eggs and start adding some of the flour.  A pastry scraper helps a lot with this. Work the flour in until a nice dough forms.  Don't overwork the dough.  Add just enough flour so the dough is not too dry.   You want the dough to be slightly sticky.

Bring a large pot of water to boil.  Flour your counter a little bit and cut off about a third of the dough.  Roll it out into a log that is about one inch in diameter.  Use a little more flour if the dough sticks.  If you use too much flour, the dough will slip and not be easy to roll out.  It is a "feel" thing.  Cut the dough log into one-inch pieces. Flour well and place on a floured baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough - you will need a second baking sheet so the gnocchi aren't laying on top of each other. 

Combine the olive oil, butter and the lemon juice in a microwavable cup.  Microwave until butter melts. Set aside. Bring a large fry skillet to medium high heat on the stove.  Add about a third of the lemon butter mixture.  With a spider or steel strainer, lower about 20 gnocchi into the boiling water. When they float to the top, let them simmer about 30 seconds and then lift them out with the strainer and place them in the skillet.  Fry for about a minute, or until the gnocchi brown a little.  Make sure the heat is high enough or they won't brown quickly. Remove the gnocchi and place in your serving dish.   Repeat with the remaining gnocchi, adding more or the lemon butter as you need it.  (If you add all the lemon butter at once, the gnocchi will steam instead of fry.)

Garnish with fresh basil.  If you want, you can zest more lemon on top also and/or add some grated cheese.

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Reader Comments (15)

Loved this recipe! She's totally right about "dry" potatoes and baking "used" to be the way to go. My dearest Italian friend Corrine taught me to make gnocchi the same way but she said to get into the 21st century! Make your life easier! Microwave the potatoes!!!! No water, just poke the skins.. they are just as dry as baking! It takes over an hour of prep off the time. Try it; you will not be disappointed!

July 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKristin

Beautiful recipe! Is there a reason you bake the potaoes instead of peel and then boil? For mashed recipes I've been boiling for time saving, but have always wondered if it changes something... Thank you!

July 30, 2013 | Unregistered Commenteraretephora

These look wonderful, Elaine! Gnocchi remind me of my Zia Franca in Rome, who makes them for us every time we go visit. I love the extra step of frying them for extra texture and flavor. Bravissima!

July 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterFlavia

Oh my, these look fabulous Elaine! I will be making these!

July 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLeta

Never thought of adding lemon to gnocchi-- sounds amazing! I was going to make your sweet potato gnocchi today, and I think I will add some lemon in that.

July 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLisa

I, too, never thought to add lemon to my gnocchi. I will try it!! Have you ever made them with ricotta. Very light and fluffy. I have to say that I love all the recipes you post. I recently made the blueberry walkaway and we all love it. We have 4 generations living in our home....from my 99 year mom to my 14 year old grandson. So, we cover the gamut of palettes.

July 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAngela

This looks fabulous! And your directions and photos are perfect to follow - can't wait to try gnocchi with lemon....

July 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLaney

I made two separate batches. One EXACTLY as described and the other, I added a tad of minced garlic and freshly ground rosemary and eliminated the basil. BOTH were incredible but a bit of work...luscious, nevertheless!
This will be made again in my kitchen but only on SPECIAL times...
ALL of Elaine's recipes that I have tried are awesome! : )

July 31, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSC

Thank you for such a wonderful post - Such detail and great photos. It is so obvious you have a passion for Italy and food!

August 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterItalian Talks

Wow, what a wonderful take on a classic dish. I can't wait to try it and think up my own variations. Another great way to make gnocchi is with sweet potatoes. Because they have more moisture, I add a little extra flour than I usually would. They taste wonderful and can be flavored with cinnamon and nutmeg to make it taste like it could be dessert.

August 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

Kind of the odd one out here -- I like using creamier potatoes as opposed to the dry ones. Yams or reds work really well for me, and I LOVE using butternut squash and some garam masala.

And for me, gnocchi have no ridges, but they do have a thumb dent in one side. Cavatelli might/might not have ridges and they have a dent from two fingers on one side. (And I make them with ricotta and no potatoes.) Every family has its way. :-)

August 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJanis

this dish looks so tasty...hmm I feel hungry on this sight! ;)

August 13, 2013 | Unregistered Commentertatjana

Thanks for this wonderful recipe. I have tried and failed so many times with gnocchi. I have a feeling I'm going to succeed with this one.

August 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJudy at Two Broads Abroad

These are absolutely delicious - the lemon flavour is fabulous. As a time-saving experiment I also tried frying the gnocchi without boiling them first, and this worked perfectly. Thank you for a wonderful recipe.

September 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDiane

Wow! Just wow! I used this recipe to make gnocchi last night (using baked yellow potatoes, finished with a quick fry and topped with marcella hazan's gorgonzola cream sauce) and they were the hit of the meal (trumping the duck breast sitting next to it). Thank you for the amazing tutorials with great pictures and details! Everyone (including myself) loved the touch of the quick fry at the end :)) will definitely try making these again soon with the lemon and basil :))

October 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDarren

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