These light ‘dumplings’ make a welcome alternative to pasta as a first course. Cooking the potatoes in a steamer before you mash them will make them extra dry, contributing to the desired lightness. Mash the potatoes by hand, because if you use a food processor it will turn them into unusable glue.
For every 1kg (2lb) mashed potatoes knead in about 200g (7oz) plain flour and salt and pepper to taste. Avoid adding eggs as they tend to make the gnocchi rubbery. These quantities.
Knead together the mashed potatoes, flour and seasoning to make a smooth, elastic dough on a work surface. Divide the dough into 3 pieces. Sprinkle each portion of dough with flour and roll into sausage shapes about 1.5cm (¾ in) wide.
Cut the ’sausages’ across into 2.5cm (tin) lengths. Press each piece of dough against the back of a large, curved fork. At the same time pull it along the fork, then flick it off on to a floured surface. The gnocchi should look like ribbed shells.
Drop the gnocchi into a large pan of boiling, salted water. When cooked they will float to the surface. Lift out with a slotted spoon, drain well, then put into a warm, buttered serving dish. Add butter and grated Parmesan cheese or a sauce.