I have always been intrigued with the idea of making my own pasta and marinara sauce. And since it’s definitely something I eat a lot and I have never met a carb I didn’t like, I thought why not give it a shot. I mean how hard could it be…right?
Well it is definitely not quick and easy! And I didn’t even make real pasta, just gnocchi, which is the Italian name for potato dumplings. But, I feel it was a good first step! Just make sure you make it on a night that you have a few hours to spare or that you eat a snack before starting to cook, because it takes awhile and everything will start smelling really yummy and you will want to eat ASAP.
First things first, put 2 lbs of Yukon gold or russet potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold water. Add 2 tsps of salt to the water too. Bring the water to a boil and reduce to a simmer and cover for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are fork tender.
While the potatoes are boiling, you can get started on the marinara sauce. Heat a tsp of oil in a large saucepan, add in 1 medium finely chopped leak and 3 minced garlic cloves. Saute for about 2 minutes and then add some dried oregano.
Add one 28 ounce can of italian style tomatoes and 1 tbsp sugar and bring mixture to a simmer. Partially cover and let cook for about 5 minutes.
Remove from the heat. In very small batches, place in a blender and puree until smooth. Transferring to a large bowl/Tupperware container. It is key to do very small batches, otherwise you will end up with a messy kitchen and very little sauce for actual eating.
Return the sauce back to the pan. Setting on low heat, add some evaporated milk and bring to a simmer. Add salt to taste. When ready to serve add in some fresh basil. If you are planning on freezing some of the sauce, or not eating it all at once, I would recommend using dried basil instead of fresh, as the fresh basil won’t necessarily hold up over a few days.
Turn the heat down to low on the sauce to keep it warm as you finish of the gnocchi.
After the potatoes are done cooking, drain them in a colander. Using a small knife, peel the skins off of the potatoes. Make sure to use a towel to hold the potatoes as you peel, they will be very hot!
Return the peeled potatoes back to the pot. If you have a potato ricer, use that, or if you are like me, simply mash them to bits until there are no lumps.
Stir in 1 egg and a bunch of salt.
Weigh out about 10 ounces of flour and add about half to the potatoes, or if you are like me, just throw a couple of large handfuls into the potatoes. Mix and knead with your hands.
Before you get working on the next step and finish the dough, set a pot of water on the stove and bring to a simmer.
Now, get out a large cutting board and sprinkle with flour. Remove the dough from the pot and place on the cutting board. Add the rest of the flour, or a few more handfuls, and knead until the dough is pliable but not sticky.
Once you think the dough is the right consistency, start grabbing chunks and rolling them into 3/4 inch sausage-like shapes. Make sure to use flour when rolling out the dough so it won’t stick to the cutting board.
Cut the gnocchi into about 1 inch pieces, and use a fork to push a pattern into each. Place on baking sheets as you go.
Once you have used up all the dough, add the gnocchi in small bunches to the water. Be careful to make sure the water doesn’t splatter up at you and burn you! Cook the gnocchi for a few minutes. You will know they are done when they rise to the top of the water.
Using a slotted spoon remove from the water and place in a serving dish.
After all the batches are done, top with sauce and some Parmesan cheese…serve!
Now, this meal is definitely one that you need helpers for. My roommates were great and pitched in to stir, mash, cut, and taste test! It is a lot of work, but definitely worth it. And unlike pasta or gnocchi from the store you don’t have anything processed added, it is all really healthy and fresh! So if you are feeling ambitious one night, definitely give it a try.
Marinara Sauce (adapted from Weight Watchers)
1 tsp olive oil
1 medium leek, finely chop the white part only
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp dried oregano
28 oz can italian-style tomatoes
1 tbsp sugar
6 oz fat-free evaporated milk
2 tbsp basil, fresh and finely chopped (or 1 tbsp dried oregano)
Salt to taste
Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat
Add leeks and garlic and saute for 2 minutes or until soft, add in oregano and cook for 1 more minute
Add in tomatoes and sugar, bring to a simmer then partially cover and let simmer for 3-5 more minutes
Remove from heat and in small batches, transfer to a blender and puree until smooth
Return to saucepan over low heat, add in milk and salt and bring to a simmer
Stir in basil, serve
Yields about 8, 2/3 cup servings
Gnocchi (adapted from Weight Watchers)
2 lbs Yukon Gold Potatoes
1 medium egg
10 oz flour
Salt to taste
Add potatoes to a large pot with 2 tsps salt and cover with cold water
Bring to a simmer and cover, cooking for 20 minutes or until tender
Using a sharp knife, and holding the potatoes with a towel, peel the potatoes
Run the potatoes through a potato ricer or mash with a potato masher until there aren’t any lumps
Stir in the egg and some additional salt
Add in a few handfuls of flour, and mix withe your hands
Get out a large cutting board and cover with flour, also start a large pot of water simmering on the stove
Place potato mixture on the cutting board
Knead the dough, adding flour until the dough is pliable but not sticky
Grab handfuls of the dough and roll out into 3/4 inch sausage shapes
Cut in to 1 inch pieces and press a design in with a fork
Place pieces on a baking sheet and repeat until you have used up all the dough
Add pieces of dough to the pot of water in small batches
Let cook for about 3 minutes, the gnocchi will rise to the top of the water when done
Scoop out the gnocchi with a slotted spoon and place in a serving dish, repeating until all the pieces are cooked
Top with tomato sauce and Parmesan and serve!
Yields 8 servings