When time was short, my mother used to make these simple, rather rustic gnocchi in our cast-iron polenta kettle. Often, she’d flavor them with a little rendered pancetta and some stock, and sauté them for a quick lunch. They’re not as refined as the lighter, fluffier potato gnocchi, but they’re tasty and, for me, poignantly nostalgic.
- 1 envelope active dry yeast
- ¼ cup warm water
- 2 cups unbleached flour
- ½ pound freshly ground white pepper
- 3 eggs, at room temperature
- ½ cup warm milk
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 8 leaves fresh sage
- Freshly ground pepper to taste
- ½ cup grated Parmigiano for serving (optional)
In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast in warm water (105-115 degrees), stirring with a fork if clumps form. In a medium bowl, thoroughly blend the flour, ½ cup of the cheese, the salt and white pepper. In a large bowl, beat the eggs, then whisk in the milk. Add the yeast and the flour mixture to the egg mixture, along with the oil and parsley, and blend well by hand or with an electric mixer, about 5 minutes.
In a wide pot, bring salted water to a boil.
Fill a large pastry bag, fitted with a ½” or ¾” round nozzle, with the dough mixture. Working over the pot and taking care not to splash yourself with hot water, pipe out the dough, snipping the gnocchi off with scissors at ½” intervals and letting them slip into the water. (Alternatively and more traditionally, the pastry bag can be dispensed with and the dough shaped with two teaspoons. For true “spoon” gnocchi, dip both spoons into the boiling water and fill ¾ of one spoon with dough, working against the side of the bowl, to facilitate cutting off the excess. Using the second spoon, roll the dough into the water from the first.) Cook the gnocchi 2-2 ½ minutes in batches of about twenty. With a slotted spoon or skimmer, transfer them to a large plate and keep them warm while cooking succeeding batches.
In a large skillet, melt the butter and add the sage. Add the cooked gnocchi and reserved Parmigiano, tossing gently with a wooden spoon until the dumplings are well coated. If the sauce seems too dry, add a little of the cooking water and toss once more.
Serve with freshly ground black pepper to taste and, if desired, grated cheese.