Thursday, April 22, 2004

Ecco La Pasta!

Dried pasta is the perfect convenience food, after all it only takes a pot of boiling water to cook it. But fresh pasta is another story. It takes work. Having a food processor and a pasta rolling machine make it a little easier but it's far from foolproof. And the trickiest pasta of all is really a potato dumpling--gnocchi.

Gnocchi is such a favorite in our household that if it is on a menu it will likely find its way onto our table. While I can make a terrific ricotta gnocchi, wonderful pumpkin gnocchi and even a Roman style semolina gnocchi, the secret to making perfect potato gnocchi has remained illusive. And I have tried every trick possible--from baking the potatoes on a bed of rock salt to adding egg yolks to the dough. The problem is, if the dough is too firm it cooks up dense and heavy. And if the dough is too light, it practically melts in the pot of water, losing its shape and turning to mush. So what to do?

Well the first thing NOT to do is buy pre-packaged gnocchi, they are sure to disappoint. At the Fancy Food Show back in January I happened upon a great solution. Ecco La Pasta gnocchi flour comes in a bag that makes a pound of pasta when you add the water to mix it up. In the time it takes to boil a pot of water, the gnocchi will be ready to go--roughly ten minutes. I'm not normally a big fan of dried mixes, so I was skeptical at first...but it really works! With painstakingly clear instructions included, you simply cannot fail. If you're still not convinced you can do it, you can review the "how to" demonstration video.

The gnocchi flour in additon to their pasta flour comes in four flavors--Rosemary & Garlic, Sundried Tomato, Spinach and Potato, costs just under $4 per package and is now available locally at Sur La Table stores but check the web site to see where you can find it near you or to purchase online.