The first time I had gnocchi, I was so disappointed. The “pillowy potato dumplings” I had been promised were in fact just soggy, gummy, flavorless dough balls. It took several years for me to bother with them again. Luckily, that time they were excellent, and I’ve been smitten with them ever since. So, of course, I had to figure out how to make my own vegan potato gnocchi at home!
These are simple to make. Don’t be alarmed by the long cooking time, because most of that is just the potatoes baking in the oven! The most time-consuming part of the process is rolling the gnocchi over the back of a fork to give it the familiar shape. This is optional, though, so feel free to skip this step if you’re in a hurry or not in the mood.
Notes on This Recipe:
Potato type: it’s important to use starchy potatoes for this recipe. I recommend Russets if you can get them, but feel free to substitute any other starchy potato. Steer clear of waxy varieties, which won’t be as nice and pillowy in the final product.
Baking the potatoes: just bake the potatoes in the oven, straight on the rack, until they’re completely tender throughout. (The goal is to get out as much moisture as possible while they’re cooking, so don’t wrap them in foil, because that will keep moisture in.) Don’t pull them out if they still offer any resistance; you want them really soft and completely cooked through. Once you take them out, immediately cut them in half so they can steam more effectively while they cool, releasing even more moisture.
Potato and flour proportions: we’ve tested this with different proportions, and found that ¾ cup of flour per 2 cups of potato works perfectly. Less flour means a crumbly dough that won’t hold together. More resulted in gnocchi that were gummy rather than pillowy. However, your measurements might vary depending on the moisture and starch levels of your potatoes, and what kind of flour you use. The goal is to add just enough flour to create a smooth, workable dough.
Boiling vs frying: your gnocchi are technically done when they’ve finished boiling. But honestly, I can’t recommend frying them highly enough. Frying your gnocchi takes them from “really good” to “mind blowing”. My steak-obsessed, Brazilian, definitely not vegan husband can’t get enough of these or stop raving about them. If you fry them, work in batches so the gnocchi don’t cover more than half of the surface of the pan. This way, they’ll actually fry rather than just sort of steam each other.
Serving Suggestions for Vegan Potato Gnocchi:
Serve this with any vegan sauce you want! This time, I went with a super quick sauce with “quarantine veggies” from the fridge. I sauteed onions until translucent, added zucchini slices, cooked until they were beginning to develop color, threw in some garlic and cooked for a few seconds longer, then added tomatoes, chili flakes, and a touch of water. A bit of simmering while the gnocchi cooked, and some olive oil stirred in at the end, created a delicious, simple, flavorful sauce.
Prepare the potatoes. The simplest way is the best here: just put the potatoes straight onto the oven rack. Make sure your potatoes are baked completely through and fully tender. If you pull them out too soon, the center will be too firm to smash easily. Once they come out of the oven, it’s cut them in half lengthwise as soon as possible. They’ll release steam while they cool. This will help reduce the moisture, which in turn reduces how much flour you need to use.
Mix the dough. As usual when making dough, you need to strike a balance between full incorporation and over-mixing. If your dough isn’t holding together, add more flour a little bit at a time until you have a workable dough. If it ends up being too dry (which it shouldn’t unless you add too much flour!), drizzle in a tiny bit of water at a time.
Form the vegan potato gnocchi. This dough can be pretty sticky, so make sure you’re working on a lightly floured surface! Working a bit at a time, roll a piece of dough into a rope about ¾” in diameter. You’ll then trim off the ends (to get consistent pieces) and cut the rope into bits about ¾” long. You can call it done here if you want.
For a nicer shape that better holds sauce, though, pull out a fork. Lightly flour it too, then set it on your cutting board with the tines facing down. Pick up a gnoccho (yes, that’s the singular!) and roll it down the back of the fork. Push just firmly enough that the tines leave a distinct impression. You’ll end up with tine lines on one side, and the indentation of your thumb or finger on the other. Play around until you find a technique that works for you!
Cook the gnocchi. Gnocchi tell you exactly when they’re done. As soon as they float to the surface of the boiling water, they’re ready, so you can scoop them out. This shouldn’t take long. In fact, sometimes it’s hard to get all of the gnocchi from a batch into the water before they start rising. As you scoop them out, drizzle them with olive oil so they don’t cling together.
Optional but recommended: fry the gnocchi. Trust me on this one. Yes, you can serve boiled gnocchi with sauce… but they’re so much better when you fry them. After you take them out of the boiling water, drizzle them with olive oil. Set them aside for two to three minutes. (This makes them less sticky, so they’ll cling together less in the pan.) Heat a generous amount of olive oil in a nonstick or cast iron skillet. Add enough gnocchi to about halfway cover the surface of the pan. Cook, stirring frequently, until they’re golden in color and have some crispy golden-brown sides.
Vegan Potato Gnocchi
- 4 medium-sized Russet (or similar potatoes)
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour (plus extra)
- 2 teaspoons olive oil (plus extra)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Prepare the potatoes. Wash them and poke several holes in each with a fork, then bake at 375 F (190 C) until tender all the way through, about 45 minutes to an hour. Remove from the oven, cut in half, and allow to cool until you can handle them. Remove the skins, then crush the potatoes with a masher, fork, or ricer until smooth. Measure out 2 cups of potato.
- Mix the dough. Bring a pot of salted water to a rolling boil on the stove. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the smashed potatoes with the flour, olive oil, and salt. Knead the mixture together until it forms a workable dough. If it doesn’t hold together, add more flour a little bit at a time.
- Form the gnocchi. Pull out a handful of dough and roll it by hand into a long roll on a lightly floured cutting board. Trim the ends, then cut into pieces about ¾” long. Optionally, roll the gnocchi on the back of a lightly floured fork to get the familiar shape. Repeat until you’ve used all your dough.
- Cook the gnocchi. Working in batches, transfer the finished gnocchi into your pot of boiling salted water. As soon as the gnocchi rise to the surface, remove them with a slotted spoon. Drizzle the finished gnocchi lightly with olive oil to keep them from sticking to each other as you continue boiling more. At this point, you can finish your gnocchi in a sauce of your choice.
- Optional but recommended: fry the gnocchi. Bring several tablespoons of olive oil to a shimmering heat in a nonstick or seasoned cast iron pan, then add enough gnocchi to cover about half the surface of the pan. Fry, stirring regularly, until they’re golden and develop a crispy golden brown layer on some sides. Repeat in batches, then smother in sauce and enjoy.
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