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I made my first batch of gnocchi this weekend and after quite a bit of work, I got gnocchi that didn't taste great. The consistency was ok; they did not disintegrate when I boiled them for a couple of minutes. BUT it felt like I was eating potatoes, nothing less, nothing more...

So I know... gnocchi are essentially potatoes. But still all the gnocchi I have tasted over the years, "regular" and gluten-free, all had a taste quite distinct from potatoes. I am wondering what I am missing.

I used red potatoes, which I had steamed in a pressure cooker, and mixed them with potato starch and rice flour. (Some of our family members are gluten free.) I let them dry for 30 mn to an hour before throwing them in boiling water in small batches and taking them out as soon as they floated, which was quick (1-2 minutes).

Any thoughts on improving on the taste of the gnocchi itself (as opposed to "cheating" by overloading them with butter, cheese and tomato sauce)?

  • Did you include any seasoning in the gnocchi? I also don't think it's cheating to sauce them liberally afterwards, but that's an opinion and I can understand wanting the gnocchi to be able to succeed on their own :) – Erica Mar 30 '15 at 12:26
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    Maybe try riccota gnocchi? – Batman Mar 30 '15 at 13:07
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    Potato starch plus ... Potato and you are wondering why they taste like potato? Asides from that, I've always used baked potatoes not boiled/steamed as they will be drier. – Doug Mar 30 '15 at 13:10
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Is it cheating to put the cheese inside the gnocchi?

I've used grated hard cheeses to help take up some of the moisture from gnocchi before. If you use cheese, plus some herbs or spices (nutmeg is pretty classic, a bit of rosemary might be nice as an alternative, or even lemon zest), it shouldn't taste like a baked potato.

I'd also be concerned with your choice of potatoes -- red potatoes around here tend to be a waxy potato. I typically use a mealy (aka floury aka starchy) potato such as a russet for gnocchi, or an in-between potato, such as a yukon gold.

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    I think Joe's comment about potato type is probably the best solution to start addressing the potato-y flavor. I also wanted to add a comment to his statement about hard cheeses - basically a reminder that, although potato is the most common base associated with the preparation of gnocchi, there are other options for a base including ricotta cheese. So, you might also consider making some form of hybridized gnocchi that restricts the contribution of potato by replacing part of it with ricotta. See also: seriouseats.com/2015/03/… – Stephen Eure Mar 30 '15 at 11:07
  • Thanks Joe. I picked red potatoes because that's what the French/Italian recipe I had suggested, but I will definitely explore the other potatoes you recommend since these may be better options in the US. Nutmeg's definitely a good idea + the various herbs. I unfortunately can't play with cheese in the dough because some of my family is not only glutten free but also dairy free. – Lolo Apr 1 '15 at 18:38
  • For reference, here is the industrial kind that we buy, tastes good, and doesn't seem to have much in terms of herbs or spices: nuovopasta.com/products/food-service-collection/… I am not sure what trick they have but for industrial glutten-free, dairy-free pasta, they are pretty good (at least much better than my first attempt :-) ) – Lolo Apr 1 '15 at 18:38
  • @Lolo first just try the different potatoes -- the different texture might affect the flavor enough you get away from the overly potato quality from your first batch. – Joe Apr 1 '15 at 22:37
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There seem to be a ton of gnocchi -recipees floating around... so I can really only guess which ones you ususally had. But for future batches try the following:

If there are gluten-free semolina you can get, use those instead of only flour. One recipe I have calls for an egg-yolk, perhaps that is what your previous gnocchi had. How did you season? Nutmeg (See Joes's answer) tends to add a quiet unique flavour.

Also, Joe's note about the potatoes is perfectly right: try to figure out the right potato for you. I have used waxy ones previously because they where simply what I had around, but starchy ones yield MUCH better results.

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