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Purple Potato Gnocchi

Purple Potato Gnocchi

Lessons From Cooking School, Recipes

My friend Tasty Trix inspired this post today.  Not only does she have  slight obsession with gnocchi, but she also posted a Purple Potato Shepherd’s Pie today, on the heels of her Basque (Purple) Potato Tortilla from last week.  I, on the other hand, have been sitting on these lavender feather-light pillows for over a week (actually 2).

I have no idea why I haven’t been able to write these babies up.  They were easily the best gnocchi I have ever made.  So light as to be called fluffy, they also had the body required to stand up to a simmer and then a pan-fry.  And it`s all down, I’m certain, to the potatoes.  They are a result of the hard work of my favourite farmers down the road, and some of the flouriest potatoes I have ever come across.

So, if there is anyone out there doing a procrastination study, I’m your test subject — I don’t even need the honorarium — just tell me why.  Please?


Gnocchi can be a tricky thing.  It’s more of a technique done by feel, rather than a strict recipe.  I was taught how to make potato gnocchi by my Austrian chef-instructor, who grew up with his family on the Italian border.  This is what he told me:

Bake potatoes in their jackets until tender.  Scoop out the flesh, and put it through a food mill while still warm.  Add 1/3 (by weight) of white flour, one egg yolk for every 2 potatoes, and a good seasoning of salt.  Mix with one hand to bring it together into a ball, but do not over mix.  Knead it lightly 3 or 4 times, then allow it to rest, covered with a clean lint-free towel until completely cooled.

purple-potato-skins purple gnocchi pillows

In real life, this means that I baked 6 medium-sized potatoes at 375° for about an hour.  After they were milled, I added approx 1 cup of flour and 3 egg yolks.  Once mixed, the dough formed a non-sticky dough quite nicely.  I used a little bit of flour to dust the counter when I shaped them, as below.

To shape the gnocchi, roll a tennis-sized ball of dough into a log about the diameter of your thumb.  Cut into 1 inch pieces, then roll down a fork to finish.  I’m not even going to try to describe the action in words.  Watch this video — it shows you how to do it much better than I could ever even try.


Next, I brought some salted (like the sea) water to a boil, then simmered the gnocchi in 2 batches, until they floated to the surface of the water.  I drained them, then cooled them on baking sheets so they didn’t form into a glue-ball.  From there, you can proceed directly to dinner, or you can freeze them on the baking sheets until firm, then drop them into a sealed bag and back in the freezer for another day.

Those 6 potatoes made enough for 4 generous main-course servings.  On the first night, I fried them in clarified butter, then tossed them in some freezer-pesto (still going strong 4 months later!) and served them with lots of freshly grated Parm.  Insane with a Caesar Salad.

For our second Gnocchi-night, I took them out of the freezer to defrost about an hour before dinner.  Once defrosted, I sauteed them in some sage-infused brown butter, with the fried sage leaves (and more Parmesan) as a garnish.  Also insane, served with a raw beet vinaigrette.


So, if you’ve got access to some purple potatoes, purple gnocchi is a good option.  Just don’t let time pass you by.


  1. Claudia
    February 9, 2011 at 2:55 pm

    Our purple potatoes come in July. It seems such a long way to wait with such savory options. But I have noted this and will wait until they are farm fresh. To-date, my gnocchi cooking has been a sad affair. Started Voyager last night with an astonishing surprise. It opens at the Battle of Culloden – the history of that battle has always left me deeply moved.

    • Theresa
      February 9, 2011 at 8:39 pm

      If you can believe it Claudia, these potatoes sat in the ground all winter long, and it wasn’t until a couple of weeks ago when the farmer and I actually dug them up. Other than some minor blackspot, they were beautiful and very, very tasty. Theresa

  2. Tiffany
    February 9, 2011 at 3:15 pm

    What a GREAT idea! This is awesome!!! Thank you for sharing!

  3. Belinda @zomppa
    February 9, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    Love purple potatoes – they just make everything more cool…surreal…cartoon-y (in a good way, life should be just cartoons anyways). They turned out perfectly!

  4. Stephanie @ okie dokie artichokie
    February 9, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    Wow! Theresa, you are constantly blowing me away with your creativity! :-p

    These look so wonderful! I love the play on color and the flavors sound outstanding together. I want, I want!

  5. Liz Marr, MS, RD
    February 9, 2011 at 3:59 pm

    I have a few of those unwritten blog posts…in my picture files and in my head, food creations long ago eaten. Happens to the best of us. These look luscious. I don’t think I’ve ever seen purple gnocchi before.

  6. Tamar
    February 9, 2011 at 4:47 pm

    I have over 40 posts in my drafts folder in various stages of completion. It’s not a bad thing to write down every idea and work it and work it to get it right.

  7. MarmandeintheKitchen
    February 9, 2011 at 7:02 pm

    I love the color – these look great!

  8. foodies at home
    February 9, 2011 at 10:16 pm

    Ummm…so I totally love gnocchi and totally love purple…I think this recipe was meant for me!

  9. Peggy
    February 10, 2011 at 2:53 am

    I’ve always wanted to pick up a bag of purple potatoes! And I’ve always wanted to make gnocchi! What better time than after reading this!

  10. Spice Sherpa
    February 10, 2011 at 6:33 am

    Gnocci is good but the purple really makes it extraordinary! Clever idea.

  11. fooddreamer
    February 10, 2011 at 7:45 am

    Oh my word, those are some beautiful gnocchi. I can honestly say that i have never had good gnocchi so I have never been a huge fan. but I fully recognize that’s it’s because I haven’t had them from a good gnocchi maker! You appear to be one.

    • Theresa
      February 10, 2011 at 11:31 am

      I certainly learned from a master! That said, it took me a few tries on my own before I got the “feel” for the dough…

  12. RavieNomNoms
    February 10, 2011 at 8:11 am

    What a great and creative idea! I just love the color!

  13. Tiffany Rosenberger
    February 10, 2011 at 8:35 am

    Love the Gnocchi. So beaufiul. I can’t wait to try this.

  14. Biren @ Roti n Rice
    February 10, 2011 at 8:43 am

    These look so lovely! I wish I can find find purple potatoes here. Your dish with the sage butter sounds so good!

  15. Nicole
    February 10, 2011 at 11:28 am

    Oh wow! These would be so much fun served along with carrot gnocchi for Halloween.

    • Theresa
      February 10, 2011 at 11:30 am

      Great idea Nicole!

  16. briarrose
    February 10, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    The gnocchi looks amazing. I adore the purple potatoes you used. Adore it!

  17. Susan
    February 10, 2011 at 2:23 pm

    Now I’m plotting a Purple Potato Gnocchi making afternoon – you KNOW i have the potatoes – and a wheat grinder……maybe someone will want to come and play with me….

    • Theresa
      February 10, 2011 at 5:24 pm

      The farmers themselves speak! I’m on my way over now, load up the hopper…

  18. Trix
    February 10, 2011 at 7:25 pm

    Omg, these are SO beautiful. I am honored that I could have inspired this post!! What is it with Austrians and Italian-style gnocchi? It’s so interesting. Now you have inspired me to make these lovelies. : )

    • Theresa
      February 10, 2011 at 8:09 pm

      I fell under the spell of the purple tatties again today, and made something I think might be even better than these gnocchi! Look for them tomorrow…

  19. Marisa
    February 13, 2011 at 10:10 pm

    I’m a huge gnocchi fan–I think using the purple potatoes is such a fun idea. I would love to get a plate of purple gnocchi!

    • Theresa
      February 15, 2011 at 9:03 am

      These were really tasty Marisa, you should try making them yourself! Theresa

  20. Wow, those are so cool. I love the color. What a unique, wonderful thing. You’re obviously an accomplished gnocchi maker. They’re perfect and gorgeous. I’ve made them once (we thought they cooked up a bit slimy, but that may have been the preparation they were added to).

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