Thursday, March 29, 2007

a canadian pasta event & a passover connection

passover means a big no to many of the foods we eat, and take for granted, on a daily basis. admittedly, this isn't the holiday for those who rely heavily on carbohydrate based comestibles like cereal and pastas as their dietary staples since all those things are banned during the 8 day observance.

until not too long ago, foods like passover noodles were just not available or even imagineable. noodles, or lokshen as they are called in yiddish, where limited to ones made from eggs and were not store-bought. they were made like you would do for a very, very thin omelette, rolled up and cut into pinwheels. these home-style were, and still are, served in soup in place of or alongside matzo balls. due to innovation and market demand, i'm sure, new products such as passover pastas and cereal have become easily accessible in grocery stores stocking passover goods. personally, i find it a bit strange to be a consumer of these things since the point of the holiday is to rid oneself from even possessing these items, whether they are kosher or not for passover use. in any event, it's not in my family tradition to use such foods so i refrain from doing so.

why am i telling you this, you ask?

a little while back, i was kindly invited by ruth of once upon a feast to participate in an event she is hosting called presto pasta nights. unfortunately, at the time she first wrote, i was inundated with life's "stuff" and had no time whatsoever to contribute. this, added to the current getting everything ready for the huge passover holiday, left me with little time to breathe let alone blog [ergo my lapse in posting the past several weeks].

additionally, i was faced with a little dilemma as ruth was looking for something from me that could be made during passover. what was the dilemma? well, i don't use pasta ever during the holiday! i did not want to say anything at the time — i wanted to see if i could come up with an alternative and i think i did. this should help those who do not use pasta for passover or cannot find it locally.

so without further ado, i'm offering a much loved "pasta" popular in many parts of the world which is acceptable for the pessah holiday.

potato gnocchi for passover

making gnocchi is easy and fun. it may take a bit of practice at first but the steps are quickly learned. as i don't have time to post pictures for the recipe itself right now, you can follow the steps here to see how to do it yourself. have fun! you can use their recipe for a non-passover version. michael chiarello also has a nice non-passover version with pictures on his great site , napa style.

photo: wvpb


3 floury potatoes, medium sized

1/3 c matzo cake meal
1/2 c potato starch
1 large egg



bake the potatoes well wrapped in tin foil until they are done. pierce the potatoes several times before wrapping them. once they cool down a bit, either mash or rice them. it takes about 50 minutes for them to bake @ 350 F.

you can also boil potatoes until they test cooked with a fork [usually 15-20 minutes]. drain them and let cool a bit. peel them while still warm and mash or rice them.

what's the difference? the baked ones make for a better gnocchi as there is less water content.

place the mashed potatoes on some flat surface dusted with potato potato starch.

make a well in center of potatoes and add the potato starch and cake meal. add the egg and some salt. with a fork beat the egg in the center to scramble it up. don't let it overflow or run out of the center.

with your hands, incorporate the ingredients by knead the dough until it is soft and not overly sticky.

at this point, the dough needs to rest. cover it and leave it for about 30 minutes.

divide the dough into four parts.

roll each part into a long, cigar shape, which is about 3/4 of an inch thick.

with a knife and some potato flour [should the dough still be sticky], cut the dough in 1/2 inch pieces.

take a piece of dough against your index finger and with the fork in the other hand, press down slightly on each one with the tines to give the typical gnocchi indentations. the gnocchi should roll as you do this [see the tutorial i mention above for a visual explanation and the finished product or the video below]. this gives you an indentation and gives the ridges, both of which help the pasta to cook faster and provide a place for the sauce to pool. don't get frustrated, it takes practice! they will still taste amazing even it they don't all come out perfectly.

cook the pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water. they will cook quickly but wait a good minute or so once they rise to the surface of the water.

remove drain them well once they are cooked.

serve with your favourite tomato sauce. here and here are two basic sauces.

these can also be simply sauteed in olive oil [or butter or a combination of the two] with garlic and chopped basil leaves and then seasoned with salt and pepper.


ok, i'll be extra nice — here's a video of how to do it for those of you who, like me, are visual.

VideoJug: How To Make Gnocchi


Ruth Daniels said...

Wow, when you do a person a favor, you REALLY do it BIG!!!

I'm like you, just because you can get Passover noodles, doesn't mean it goes with the holiday.

I'll be making a matzo layered eggplant dish - a sort of lasagna.

Thanks again for joining in Presto Pasta Nights. And have a very happy Pesach.

burekaboy — said...

ruth - LOL. thanks :)) and you are very welcome. thank you for thinking of/including me in your event.

yeah, i don't get the whole passover noodle obsession but to each his/her own.

your dish sounds great. i've had a lasagna one with roasted vegetables , tomato sauce and KLP mozzarella at a friend's one year for a lunch. it was really good and memorable.

a joyous and delicious holiday to you and yours in halifax! gut yontif :)

Princess Jibi said...

Looks so delicious...

Emily DeVoto, Ph.D., said...

There's actually a technical name for the layered matzo dish: lasatza! :-p

My Dad makes a similar meat-based Sephardic Italian dish called scacchi that involves artichokes. I'd post but, with all due respect to dear old Dad, it's rather bland and quite a lot of work. Still, if anyone likes I can probably retrieve it.

Emily DeVoto, Ph.D., said...

Oh, and by the way, thanks for the gnocchi, bb. I've never made them, and they look like a blast! Anything with potatoes works for me...

Beenzzz said...

I'm drooling now because it all looks SOOOOOOOOOO delicious! I'll watch the video. I haven't made gnocchi before, so I am curious as to how its done. :)

Karina said...

Look at those cute little gnocchi! I bet they were tasty.

I've tried to make them gluten-free but they turned out gummy. Sigh.

Hey Happy Passover!


TopChamp said...

I've tried to make this. Came out like slime. Don't have a potato ricer and didn't know you could use mashed so I spent AGES pushing the spud through a colander.

Perhaps I'll give it another go using normal mash.

p.s. hello - not seen ya for a while. Nice to catch up!

trupti said...

I do love Gnocchi with a blush sauce...adding Matzo is different,I'll have to hunt high and low for that here in NL,you know that right????

hope things are well, BB!


Anna said...

hope you're enjoying your passover feasts. such a nice time for family and food.

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

That's a great find! I love gnocchi...

Happy Passover!

burekaboy — said...

PJ - hey there :) i'm sure you'd like these since you like potatoes so much!

emily - heard of the scacchi dish before but never felt inclined to try it. artichokes in my book are a lot of work.

you should try out the gnocchi; fun to make. can't go wrong with 'em!

beenzzz - hope you liked the video. probably easier to order them next time you go to an italian restaurant to check them out.

karina - my friend tried them and had similar gummy results. wonder if there is a GF remedy for making them successfully. happy passover to you, too :)

hiya TC - nice to see you again. i've not had the chance to visit you either in a while.

as for making gnocchi, yep, you can use mashed. using a ricer is the classic way as it gives uniform and small textured pieces of potato. i've done the colander thing before with other things. i feel your pain! LOL. not the best implement to sub for a ricer.

hey trupti - LOL, yeah i'm sure the matzo is right next to the hing in the local NF grocery store. hehe.

hi anna - thanks for stopping by. despite it being a very hectic time, it's the opportunity for non stop eating and seeing friends and family. happy easter to you!

rosa - it was actually a good thing to come across this recipe since people get tired of being so limited for the week and people tend to generally love their pastas (there isn't such a lack of food -- people just like to complain when they are "deprived" for any length of time).

hope you have a nice easter holiday. joyeuses paques la bas! ne creves pas de manger trop du chocolat!!

Lannae said...

I love gnocchi! Yours looks so good and perfect! One time I made these, and I put them in boiling water, and I got a pot full of mush.

burekaboy — said...

hey lannae - LOL, they look so perfect cause they're NOT mine! it's a borrowed picture.

gnocchi are sometimes difficult to make and it does take some practice. you probably either didn't have enough flour or egg mixed in to keep them bound. worth trying again, i think.

Linda said...

thanks for the video. it's sooo helpful. i'm not nearly as intimidated anymore!

burekaboy — said...

linda - you are very welcome. i like adding video like that occasionally as it can be hard to visualize it being done. recipes without pictures, for the most part, are tedious in my book. i like adding procedural pix too as there is nothing worse than having no clue what things look like along the way, especially for stuff you are not familiar with.

Vidya said...

I made gnocchi and pesto from scratch today, I enjoyed it very much. Got fresh basil from the farmer's market and picked up yellow potatoes, parmesan and pignoli from the grocery store. I followed this recipe from The Oregonian

I didn't make your version since you had eggs listed.

I made the pesto exactly as in the recipe except the quantity and substituted basil for arugula. The only gnocchi I have tried before is the one from Trader Joe's, mine came out very light and fluffy compared to that. Next time I'll add more flour or even use rice flour to add a little more strength.

You list floury potatoes and the Oregonian lady specifically avoids them. I'm wondering if you have any thoughts on how it might affect the end result. If you ask me, I'd like to use the Russets that I get in bulk, instead of paying more for the boiling kind. But since this was my first time, I went all out to get the right ingredients.

burekaboy — said...

vidya - it's funny that you mention basil as i have a bag full in the fridge at the moment and have been thinking of what to do with it!

glad to hear that you found a recipe without eggs and it was good. i'll give it a try to see how it fares (in comparison & out of interest). gnocchi texture is usually fairly "toothsome", if you know what i mean. adding extra flour should do it.

as for the potato question, i gather the reason she specifies waxy potatoes is due to the starch content. this would be necessary in the absence of eggs. you may be able to get away with a combination of waxy potatoes mixed with a few russets. you'll have to experiment and see but it could work in the right proportion (prob. 3:1).

normally, floury russet types are used specifically to avoid such a problem as they tend to get gluey; not something you want for gnocchi.

don't know if you've ever tried arugula. you should one time, if only a bit in a salad. it's quite good (i find). it has a nutty taste sort of like peanut butter, even! :)

Vidya said...

I don't know for sure if I have eaten arugula...I think it is part of the salads that I eat in fancy restaurants, as part of the office christmas party and such. I don't make salads at home, especially with raw leaves...sorry, it just feels weird to eat whole leaves. It's a different story when I have to eat out, I usually order a salad, substituting lettuce with spinach with dressing on the side and end up eating the salad without the dressing. Not very appetizing, I know, but usually that is all that meets my dietary restrictions at fancy french restaurants or steakhouses.

Maybe I'll buy some arugula next weekend at the farmer's market, just to make pesto.

Thanks for your thoughts on the potato variety, looks like boiling kind it will be for me.

burekaboy — said...

vidya - oops, just saw what i wrote above; syntactical late night error: what i meant was that waxy potatoes tend to get gluey (when processed) due to high starch content -- russet type ones are the standard (w/ eggs) for classic gnocchi.

LOL @ the whole raw leaves comment. i know what you mean. it's also a cultural thing, so quite understandable. i quite like arugula but many don't as it has a strong flavour to it. i can see it going very well in a pesto sauce. hope it turns out well if you decide to give it a go.