Introduction: Chestnut Gnocchi
A Brief History: In Italy, if it’s Thursday, it must be gnocchi! A classic Italian pasta, these pillowy potato dumplings make for a hearty meal no matter how you serve them—baked with creamy cheeses, sautéed with wintery veggies, dressed in a tangy tomato sauce… you name it. You can’t go wrong with this satisfying, often-mispronounced pasta!
The word “gnocchi” (pronounced N’YAW-kee) has an unknown origin, but it’s speculated to come from the Italian word nocca, meaning knuckle. Essentially, gnocchi are a form of dumplings, and, of course, not exclusive to Italy. But their light, airy texture and full potato flavor makes them a unique pasta with a long history in classic European cuisine. Even different regions of Italy have their respective versions, and before potatoes, gnocchi existed but with different ingredients—breadcrumbs, squash, chestnut flour, egg and cheese, just to name a few. Gnocchi, being filling and inexpensive, were the perfect peasant food.
I'm curious and adventurous with food. If there is the slightliest possibility of a food made from one of my favorite ingredients, before I know it I'm heading to stores with the ingredients list. Chestnut is one of my favorites. I decided to make chestnut gnocchi.
To try it on your own, you'll need:
1 1/2 lbs. of frozen chestnut, already shelled
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup or more for working dough
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 of A carrot (optional), finely chopped
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Cup of tomato sauce (I used olive oil, basil and garlic tomato sauce)
Step 1: The Dough
Boil chestnuts, drain well, allow them to cool in a colander. Rice chestnut by using the side of a cup or bowl.
Mound flourin a large mixing bowl or on the middle of a wooden board or a clean, dry countertop.
Using your hands, make a well in the center of the flour.
Add the riced chestnut to the center. Make sure they have been given enough time to cool and drain.
Create another well in the center of the chestnut. Break one egg inside and add a 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
Using a fork, begin to incorporate ingredients for dough by pulling flour into the center.
Slowly mix in only as much flour as the chestnut can absorb. You may not need all of the flour. Or add water if needed.
Once the dough starts to come together, begin kneading.
Knead until ingredients are thoroughly combined. Form a wide rectangle with dough.
Cut dough into pieces.
Roll each piece by gently pushing with fingers spread. The goal is to make an evenly-distributed rope. For shorter, heavier gnocchi, roll dough into thick ropes. Roll longer ropes for thinner gnocchi.
Use a fork to make ribs on each rope. Cut it into 1 inch pieces.
Step 2: To Cook
Place finished gnocchi in a large pot of salted, boiling water. Cook gnocchi until they float to the top, and the broken center has no white flour present. Remove them with a handled colander.
Step 3: Dress the Gnocchi
Heat EVOO in a heavy sauce pan.
Toss in the finely chopped carrot. Stir until it's cooked.
Add in the tomato sauce and simmer for a few minutes.
Toss cooked gnocchi in the saucepan and cook together for about 2 minutes.
Step 4: Serve
To me, this is a pasta loaded with refined startch. So serve with your favorite vegetables high in insoluble fiber.
(Because highly refined and processed food may result in constipation. Eating highly refined food chronically means chronic constipation. Chronical constipation may cause colon polyp or cancer. So take care of your colon).
Step 5: Evaluation and Confess
3 findings: We all thought it tasted good but we were not crazy about it which was not surprising. I have to confess we are no Italian. Our taste buds and stomach are even less Italian. It has happened before that I was excited about a food I was making until the tangy tomato sauce was added in. So, if you are Italian, try it and let me know if you really liked it.
We all finished our shares and felt full. Part of the reason I think is because this chestnut gnocchi was dense and heavy not like the potato gnocchi, which according to the introduction from internet, is light and airy. So I'll make at least one more time of chestnut gnocchi with half potato and half chestnut to make it lighter and airier. If it turned out good, we'll have it more often.
There was a little gnocchi left. When I added some of the water that gnocchi was boiled in to the leftover gnocchi, reheated it as a soup. The sour and tangy tomato sauce was diluted. It tasted a lot better for me. When I make it again, I'm going to make it this way.
That's all. Enjoy!