Porcini Gnocchi with Wilted Dock

Pillowy potato footballs with fungi and lemony greens.

Porcini Gnocchi with Wilted Dock

Gnocchi - the pasta of potatoes. If you see gnocchi as simply a vehicle for toppings then you haven't tried legit gnocchi. Making gnocchi from scratch may take time and attention, but the effort is worth it. The resultant soft, pillowy dumplings are stars of the show as much as any sauce. The first time I had the pleasure of tasting homemade gnocchi was in Turin, Italy when I was there for the Slow Food Terra Madre conference and I can still remember the meal - it was that good. My gnocchi may not quite achieve the same level of perfection, but I'll certainly keep trying.

I've made gnocchi several times in the past, each time with a different topping, and I really like how the richness of the mushroom sauce and the brightness of the foraged dock paired with the simple potato pasta in this recipe. The next time I make it however, I will blend the mushroom sauce with an immersion blender for a smoother consistency that doesn't compete with the soft gnocchi "pillows".  Feel free to take just the gnocchi portion of this recipe and experiment with your own combinations, such as a dandelion greens pesto or a simple marinara sauce. Recipe serves 4.

Gnocchi

  • 2 pounds of golden potatoes
  • 1/4 cup egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • Sea salt (fine grain)

Fill a large pot with water. Salt the water, then cut potatoes in half and place them in the pot. Bring the water to a boil and cook the potatoes until tender, about 25-30 minutes.

Working one potato at a time, remove potato halves with a slotted spoon and place on a large cutting board. As soon as possible after removing from the water, peel each potato before moving onto the next (these are, obviously, hot potatoes, but you want to work as fast as possible to mash them while they're still hot). Mash potatoes using a fork to create a mound of potato "fluff" - do not over mash. Save the potato water for later.

Let the potato mash cool for about 5 minutes (you want to prevent the egg from cooking). Join the potatoes into a soft mound, drizzle with the beaten egg and sprinkle 3/4 cup of the flour across the top. Using a spatula, scrape underneath and fold to mix in egg and flour. With a very gentle touch, knead the dough. Knead in more flour if dough is too gummy/tacky. The dough should be moist but not sticky.

Lightly flour a new cutting board and separate potato dough into 8 pieces. Gently roll each 1/8th of dough into a log, roughly the thickness of your thumb. Use a knife to cut pieces every 3/4-inch. Dust with a bit more flour.

Shape gnocchi using a fork to create lines in the middle of the gnocchi, so that they kind of look like footballs. Be sure to lightly touch fork into the gnocchi so that it still stays soft and doesn't break. Set gnocchi aside, dusting with flour if needed until you are ready to boil them. Meanwhile, make the porcini sauce. 

Porcini Sauce

  • 1.5 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 0.75 ounces dried porcini mushrooms, rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
  • Salt and pepper

Heat broth and porcini in a small saucepan until simmering. Turn off heat, cover, and Let stand until softened, about 5 minutes. Remove mushrooms, reserve liquid, and dice porcini. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add chopped porcini, shallot, and garlic; cook until lightly browned, 2 to 4 minutes. Stir in reserved liquid, wine, and remaining tablespoon olive oil, scraping up any browned bits. Increase heat to high and bring to boil; cook to reduce, whisking occasionally, about 5 minutes. Stir in parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover to keep warm.

Cooking and Serving Gnocchi

  • A few handfuls of foraged dock, dandelion, or other green, thoroughly washed and trimmed
  • Olive oil drizzle, salt, and pepper, for garnish
  • Parmesan shavings, for garnish

Reheat the potato water and bring to a boil, adding more water if needed (you need enough water to cover the gnocchi). Cook the gnocchi in small batches by dropping them into the boiling water. Once gnocchi pop up to the top, remove them with slotted spoon ten seconds or so after they've surfaced. Have a large platter ready with dock or other greens that you will be serving with the gnocchi on the plate. Place the gnocchi on the platter on top of the greens - greens will wilt from the heat of the gnocchi. Continue cooking in batches until all the gnocchi are done. Top gnocchi with porcini sauce, a drizzle of olive oil, salt, black pepper, and parmesan shavings.