Why This Recipe Works
- A simple blend of white rice flour and sweet rice flour keeps the gnocchi from falling apart.
- Baking the potatoes rather than boiling them reduces moisture in the gnocchi dough and accentuates their potato flavor.
Turning on the oven to bake potatoes during the summer seems silly. But summer foods, including pesto, caponata, and fresh tomato sauce, pair so well with potato gnocchi that it's worth the hour or so of extra kitchen heat. And if you break the process down into two steps by making the gnocchi and freezing them for later, you're guaranteed a quick summer dinner. Once frozen, all you need is to boil the gnocchi, top it with sauce, and enjoy.
Without wheat flour to bring stretchy gluten to hold the gnocchi together, starchy potatoes provide the structure that we need. So be sure to select russet or Idaho potatoes for the recipe.
To further ensure the gluten-free gnocchi hold together during cooking, you need to bake, not boil, the potatoes. Baked potatoes not only reward you with a stronger potato flavor, they don't absorb water during the cooking process. During testing, batch after batch of gnocchi made with baked potatoes used approximately one to one and a half cups of gluten-free flour. The same recipe made with boiled potatoes sometimes required up to two and a half cups of flour, leaving the gnocchi heavy and unpleasantly gummy.
Thanks to the starchy, baked potatoes, we don't need to use a complex gluten-free flour blend or xanthan gum for this recipe. A simple mix of white rice flour and sweet rice flour does the trick. And the sweet rice flour is important. Made with only white rice flour, the gnocchi were too soft. A half cup of sweet rice flour, which is ground from glutinous, short-grain rice, added a nice bite without making the gnocchi gritty.
Mixing the Dough
Once you've baked the potatoes and whisked together your flour, it's time to make gnocchi dough. I recommend waiting until the baked potatoes are cool enough to handle before you peel them. While some cooks make gnocchi with hot potatoes, in my non-scientific tests, I found the negatives (handling hot potatoes and the possibility of the eggs cooking when they hit the hot potatoes) outweighed any benefits.
To prep the potatoes for the dough, pass them through a potato ricer or food mill. If you don’t have a potato ricer handy, you can grate the potatoes or mash them. (In fact, you can make small batches of gnocchi with cold, leftover mashed potatoes!) Work the eggs into the riced potatoes with a bench scrapper or fork.
As soon as the eggs are incorporated into the dough, the potato-egg mixture should resemble a very soft dough. Stop mixing at this point and add the gluten-free flour blend.
For two pounds of gnocchi, you need about one and a half cups of gluten-free flour. The few times I used less flour, the gnocchi fell apart while they boiled. Begin by adding one cup of flour. Work it into the dough and then go from there.
You want the dough to be firm, not soft and sticky. If the dough seems too soft, add the remaining flour mixture, a quarter cup at a time.
If you've never made gnocchi before and aren't sure if you've added enough flour, you can pinch off a little piece of dough and test it in a small pot of boiling water. The dough should not fall apart, if it does, add more flour. (I've even boiled water in the microwave for this test.)
Divide the dough into quarters. And then, right before you work with it, cut each quarter in half. Place a damp paper towel over the dough you aren’t working with. This prevents a skin from forming.
Knead the dough a few times before rolling out into a long log.
Cut each log into bite-size pieces. Since my dough wasn't on a cutting board, I used a small icing spatula to cut the dough into pieces. This prevents my knife, and countertop, from damage.
The easiest way to shape gnocchi is to simply press a small indentation into each piece, but the classic shape is achieved by rolling each dumpling over a fork or gnocchi board. This creates ridges which hold onto sauce for serving. (For a better idea of what the process looks like, see the image in step four of this recipe.)
Gluten-Free Potato Gnocchi Recipe
Tender, fluffy potato gnocchi, without the wheat flour.
2 pounds russet potatoes, washed
1 cup white rice flour
1/2 cup sweet rice flour
2 large eggs
Adjust oven rack to center position and preheat oven to 400°F (205°C). Pierce potatoes a few times with a knife and place on a baking sheet. Roast until tender, about 1 hour. Remove potatoes from oven and allow to cool.
Whisk together white rice flour and sweet rice flour. Using the flour mixture, flour your counter. Peel potatoes and pass through a potato ricer onto the counter. Whisk together eggs and 1 teaspoon salt. Pour over potatoes. Work egg mixture into potatoes with a bench scrapper or fork until potatoes begin to hold together. Mixture will be sticky.
Work 1 cup of flour mixture into potato mixture. Start by working flour into potato mixture with a bench scrapper or fork. As soon as a dough begins to form, begin kneading dough by hand until all the flour is incorporated. The dough should be firm and not sticky. If it is, add remaining flour mixture, about 1/4 cup at a time. (You can test the dough by boiling a small pot of water and cooking a small piece. The gnocchi dough should hold together.)
Divide dough into quarters. Then, as you work with it, cut each quarter in half. Cover remaining dough with a damp paper towel. Roll out each dough eighth into a log. Cut into bite-size pieces. Shape by either pressing a small indentation into each gnocchi or rolling the gnocchi over a fork or gnocchi board.
Transfer shaped gnocchi to a lightly white rice-floured baking sheet. Shaped gnocchi can either be frozen (see Make-Ahead and Storage below) or cooked right away.
To Cook: Boil a large pot of salted water. Cook half the fresh or frozen gnocchi in boiling water until they float, about 4 minutes. (Taste one gnocchi to ensure it is cooked through). Remove gnocchi from water with a skimmer and transfer to a bowl or pot of sauce. Repeat with remaining gnocchi. If gnocchi must be held for more than a moment, drizzle with oil and toss to prevent sticking.
Make-Ahead and Storage
To freeze gnocchi, place the baking sheet of uncooked gnocchi directly in the freezer. Once the gnocchi are frozen, transfer to a plastic freezer bag. Gnocchi may be frozen for up to two months. Cook as directed below.
Several batches of gnocchi may be prepared at one time and frozen. Doubling the recipe, however, makes it hard to work with the dough. So it's a good idea to make two or more batches of dough individually instead of doubling the recipe.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Servings: 4 to 6|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 2g||3%|
|Saturated Fat 1g||3%|
|Total Carbohydrate 66g||24%|
|Dietary Fiber 4g||16%|
|Total Sugars 2g|
|Vitamin C 13mg||63%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|