Zero Waste Gnocchi
Creating your own Gnocchi from scratch is not only wholesomely satisfying but allows you to avoid pre-packaged options to create a healthy Zero Waste meal.
Gnocchi has been a favourite in my house for a long time and in the beginning we were happy to buy it at the supermarket. Since becoming Zero Waste however, I was hesitant to buy the packaged stuff off the shelf. That is until one fateful day at the Farmers Markets there was a stall selling beautifully fluffy handmade gnocchi! I had to try it but didn’t have any containers with me, so I ended up buying their gnocchi in their packaging and planned on returning it to be reused.
This gnocchi was delicious. I had never had gnocchi which melted in your mouth! I guess because I had always had the pre-packaged stuff I never knew the mouth-watering goodness that was fresh handmade gnocchi.
The next Sunday I raced into the markets to seek out my gnocchi man but of course he wasn’t there when I wanted him to be! I messaged them frantically on Facebook to find out where they had gone and if they were ever coming back. Turns out their gnocchi was such a big hit that they travelled back to Italy to source more gnocchi merchandise! They would return in three weeks and would love to send a postcard. Flattered that they would put in the effort but devastated that it would be a while till they returned, I sulked at home.
Not willing to wait three weeks to devour some freshly made gnocchi, I pondered how hard it would be to make my own? I had made Zero Waste pasta not long ago, why not give Zero Waste gnocchi a shot? It was definitely a more in depth process to make your own handmade gnocchi, with multiple opinions from what potatoes to use, how to cook them and whether or not to add an egg to the gnocchi recipe.
I was looking for something simple, foolproof and Zero Waste. After much research I decided on baking readily available russets potatoes in the oven and adding an egg to my Zero Waste gnocchi recipe. All ingredients were bought in bulk or from the farmer’s markets plastic free.
A Zero Waste Note: A great Zero Waste option for making gnocchi would be to use leftover mash potatoes. Whilst I haven't tried this method myself as yet, I have heard of others having success and will update with my results. If you have given this a go, please let me know in the comments below!
The best gnocchi potatoes
The perfect light and fluffy gnocchi is made with a dry and starchy potato, which make russets the perfect candidate. As a higher water content of a potato means more flour must be added, creating a denser mixture and chewier gnocchi. Choosing the old russet potatoes of the bunch, normally left behind at farmers markets, helps to minimise food waste whilst achieving the driest Zero Waste gnocchi mixture possible.
Cooking the Potatoes
Many recipes call for boiling your potatoes but with this method the potatoes absorb water, which is counterproductive in our search for a dry and starchy potato. Instead bake your potatoes and you could even place them on a bed of salt to draw out excess moisture.
Once cooked you want to create a light and fluffy ‘potato crumb’ using either a rice mincer or sieve. I only had a grater on hand which worked great, as long as you keep the potatoes aerated and soft.
To egg or to not to egg?
Options are split as to whether you add an egg to a gnocchi recipe or not, even in Italy itself. For beginners, an egg helps to keep the gnocchi mixture together and from disintegrating when cooked. It takes much practice to produce a perfect egg-free gnocchi with a slightly richer potato flavour, but the fun is in eating in the results, am I right?
If you do chose to add an egg to your Zero Waste gnocchi recipe, you can throw the egg shells into your compost bin.
Zero Waste Gnocchi (Serves 2-3)
500 grams Russets potatoes
125 grams Flour more or less
1 Egg (optional)
Pinch of Salt
Wash your potatoes, leaving the skins on, then bake in an oven until your knife slides easily out of the potatoes.
Remove the potato skins, then use a grater, sieve or rice mincer to crush (not mash) your potatoes into a large bowl.
Add the salt, egg (optional) and just enough flour to hold the dough together. Gently combine the mixture, adding small amounts of the flour until you have a smooth, soft and slightly sticky dough. Do not knead the dough or it will become too dense.
Place the dough onto a well-floured surface then break off pieces and roll into snakes about the thickness of your thumb.
Cut the snake into one-inch pieces of gnocchi. Keep your Zero Waste gnocchi well-floured to prevent them from sticking to each other.
Either leave your gnocchi as it is or you can create ridges by rolling your gnocchi over a fork with your thumb.
Bring a pot of salted water to boil then add your gnocchi in batches. They are ready once they float to the surface.
Add your favourite sauce and enjoy your first but not last batch of Zero Waste gnocchi!
Freezing your Zero Waste Gnocchi
Make a double batch of Zero Waste gnocchi and freeze some for a quick meal at a later date.
Place gnocchi on baking trays and place in freezer until firm, then transfer into a container to keep frozen for up to two months.
Have you given my Zero Waste gnocchi recipe a go?
I would love to know how you went in the comments below