This is another recipe from my hometown cookbook, Little Italy Festival Town. In the book this is called Instant Gnocchi, because it’s a variation of a gnocchi recipe made with instant mashed potatoes and was written by a woman named Virginia Harris.
I spoke with my mother to see if she had any stories behind the woman who wrote this recipe and she actually did which excited me. Virginia Harris, whose maiden name was Devan, grew up near my mother. I mean it is a small town, so that’s not shocking or anything, but my mother and I grew up on our family land which is on the outskirts of town. Basically Virginia was not a townie kid. My mother told me that when she was growing up there was some animosity between the townies and the kids who lived in the country. Before my mother’s generation the animosity of Clinton, Indiana was against the Italians and the townies. Now we have a whole festival dedicated to our Italian ancestry. So take that Clinton townies!
Besides being the country kid gang of Clinton, the other thing my mother and Virginia had in common was a love for horses. My mother and her sisters adore horses. They had some of their own growing up, but Virginia had a Palomino horse. I like horses but I do not share an adoration for them like my mother. I do know how to ride and I took a class in college even, but my mother and my aunts have a particular love that I can not match up to. This is my long-winded way of saying that I was not aware that a Palomino horse is a big deal in horse world.
The reason it’s a big deal is because Palomino horses are like golden horse gods. They are movie star beautiful. In fact they were commonly used in the 50s and 60s for movies. Don’t take my word for it though. Check this out.
Naturally my mother and her sisters thought Virginia was the cats pajamas. Her cool status among my mother was elevated even higher because she would take her god horse to shows which is something she always wanted to do, but was not allowed because of the tyranny of her parents.
That’s a joke, by the way, in case anyone takes me seriously.
What this all boils down to is that Virginia was a cool lady who came up with a clever way to make gnocchi’s from scratch. So how do we make these wonderful gnocchi’s? I’ll tell you.
You will need, 1 envelope of instant mashed potatoes, 3 beaten eggs, 5 cups of flour, 1/4 cup of milk, 2/3 cup of water, and 1 teaspoon of salt.
The first step is to make your instant mashed potatoes. Just follow the package instructions and you are good to go. Then add the eggs to your mashed potatoes. Once the eggs have meshed with the potatoes you add the remaining ingredients and mix. After mixing, there is kneading. Knead with passion and then roll your dough out until it is about as thick as a finger. Cut the dough into bite sized squares and indent with a fork.
I totally forgot to indent mine with a fork. Actually I got real frustrated when I made this because I didn’t have enough all-purpose flour and substituted with some Bisquick which resulted in my dough being very sticky. I ended up just cutting random shapes and plopping them into boiling water. They still tasted fine, but they were not pretty. Virginia is probably disappointed in me. I’m sorry Virginia. If I had know how cool you were I would have made a better effort.
As you might have guessed, once you cut your dough up, (hopefully better than I did) you will drop that gnocchi into boiling water. You will know the gnocchi is cooked and ready when it rises to the top. When this happens remove your gnocchi with a slotted utensil until each one has been cooked.
To serve, just place on a plate and pour some marinara sauce on top with your choice of grated cheese. I like mine with cheese and crushed red pepper, but do with it what you will.
Despite my frustration with the dough, my gnocchi did turn out well. I had a huge mess to clean up though. So I do recommend covering your kitchen with saran wrap like Dexter Morgan would before a kill.
Other than that, this is easy to make and a great alternative to the traditional way of making potato gnocchi.