About this recipe
Family Recipe Makes the Most of Humble Spuds
I have been making gnocchi with my father and grandmother since I was old enough to grasp a fork. This heart-felt memory keeps me cooking food from scratch with local staples. In our Italian family’s traditional recipes, each ingredient has its purpose. Combined, they lend nutritional benefits, flavor and interest to daily meals and encourage me to slow down and savor my food.
Gnocchi are simple dumplings featuring the humble potato, which is one of the top vegetable crops worldwide. A member of the Solanaceae or nightshade family, its stems swell underground to produce the starchy tubers we enjoy. Harvesting them in August reminds me of a treasure hunt: I never know just how many I will find, and I am always delighted by the discovery.
Potatoes are rich in vitamin B6, which helps our bodies synthesize amino acids. They also contain kukoamines, phytonutrients that, according to the Institute for Food Research, can help to lower blood pressure. Their fiber content comes primarily from the skin. Hence, to gain its benefits, choose local, pesticide-free potatoes, give them a good scrub, and enjoy them with the skin on.
As cooler weather returns, farmers’ markets will be wonderful places to see impressive displays of heirloom potatoes. From Banana Fingerling to All Blue, you can mix varieties to see which you prefer. I enjoy roasting fingerlings and mashing gold or red potatoes.
What is your grandparents’ heritage? If you know, take time to research recipes from their country of origin. Perhaps you will find your own ancestral potato preparation.
Preheat oven to 425°.
Bring a stockpot of water to a boil. Drop in the chopped potatoes and boil for about 10 minutes. When potatoes are tender, drain and then pass them through a vegetable mill into a large bowl or mash them in the bowl with a potato masher. Add salt and olive oil and mix to incorporate. Slowly stir in spelt flour until you get a dough that is supple without being too sticky.
Working on a floured surface, roll the dough into inchthick ropes. Starting from the end of a rope, cut off a small piece and roll it with the edge of a fork to create grooves on 1 side and a hole in the other. Set aside on a floured plate. Continue cutting and rolling pieces until you have shaped all the dough.
As you are shaping the gnocchi, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the gnocchi in small batches and remove them from the boiling water with a slotted spoon when they rise to the top. Place them in a baking dish and keep warm in a 250° oven, if desired.
Serve the gnocchi with the following sauce.
Brush excess dirt off of mushrooms and chop lightly. Do not wash mushrooms.
Coat the bottom of a skillet with olive oil and heat over a medium flame. Add onions, turn heat to low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add mushrooms and cook for 10 more minutes.
Add spinach, garlic and nutmeg to the skillet and season with salt and pepper. Sauté for 2 more minutes.
Place the cooked gnocchi on plates and spoon sauce over them. Serve and savor autumn’s local delights.