2 1/4 pounds, mealy potatoes, peeled
1 3/4 cups flour
A pinch of salt
In making gnocchi you should steam the potatoes rather than boil them. If you do not have a steamer, put the potatoes in a metal colander, set the colander in a spaghetti pot, fill the pot with water to just below the colander, and set the pot, covered, to boil. The potatoes will be done in 30-45 minutes, when a skewer penetrates but they are still firm. Mash them while they’re still hot (a potato ricer works very well here). Slowly knead the flour and the salt into the potato mixture, so as to have a fairly firm dough. Roll the dough out into snakes about as thick as your finger, cut the snakes into one-inch pieces, and gently score the pieces crosswise with a fork. As an alternative to scoring with a fork, we suggests you gently press them against the inside of a curved cheese grater, to obtain a curved shape with a depression on one side. The choice is up to you.
Cook the gnocchi in abundant salted boiling water, removing them with a slotted spoon a minute or two after they rise to the surface. Drain them well and serve them with a few leaves of sage, melted sweet butter and Parmigiano, or meat sauce, or pomarola, or pesto.
The quantities above will make gnocchi sufficient for four as a main corse, or 6-8 as a first course in an Italian meal.
Salsa di Pomodoro alla Napoletana
Neapolitan tomato sauce
Though slow-cooking pomarola is quite tasty, there are times you’ll want something quicker — that’s when this classic Neapolitan sauce comes into play. It’s perfect for pasta, but will also work well with rice or pizza. To make about 1 1/4 pounds of sauce (in other words, a jar), you will need:
2 pounds ripe plum tomatoes
1/2 cup olive oil
12 fresh basil leaves
2 cloves garlic, lightly crushed
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Set a large pot full of water to boil. Meanwhile, wash the tomatoes and remove the brownish patches where the stems were attached using a sharp-pointed knife. Dump the tomatoes into the boiling water, blanch them for about a minute, and then run enough cold water into the pot so you can pick out the tomatoes without burning yourself. Peel the tomatoes, discarding their skins, seed them, slice them, and put them in a bowl. When you are done heat the oil and the garlic in another pot (traditionalists use one made of terracotta), and stir in the tomato filets before the oil garlic begins to crackle. Season with salt and pepper, simmer over a low flame for 10 minutes, stir in the basil leaves, simmer for five more minutes, and it’s done.
Figure about 1/4 cup of sauce (or more to taste) and 1/4 pound of pasta per serving; serve the pasta with grated cheese on the side.
To keep the sauce from becoming heavy, it’s very important that the oil not not get too hot before the tomatoes are stirred in. Also, some Neapolitan cooks of the older generation made this sauce using lard rather than oil.