Potato dumplings are a lovely dish which form a central part of many of the world’s cuisines. Once upon a time, and still today in some countries, they were made with just water and flour, but the best-known and most widespread (and delicious) version, is made with potatoes. Those made with semolina (the famous gnocchi alla Romana), with rice, or simply with bread (in the case of the South Tyrolean dumplings) are also excellent. But we wanted to make the classic potato gnocchi, soft and fluffy, with potato, flour, a pinch of salt and a few tablespoons of egg, which are optional. And as for an accompanying sauce, we also went down the classic route, opting for something simple made with fresh tomatoes and basil.
This is the classic recipe. Place the well-washed but unpeeled potatoes in cold water without salt, boil so that they are completely cooked through, peel, and then mash the potatoes with a potato masher. Add salt and, if you like, a little nutmeg. Stir in the flour. Break the egg into a small bowl, lightly beat it and then mix just 2 or 3 tablespoons into the potato and flour mixture. Knead on a floured surface until the dough is compact and firm but still soft. Shape the dough into rolls as thick as your finger and then cut into small regular pieces which you roll on the floured work surface to prevent sticking. If you want, you can score them one by one with the prongs of a fork. Arrange them on a towel or on a floured work surface. Cook them by putting them in some strongly boiling salted water and then remove them with a slotted spoon as soon as they rise to the surface. Toss with some homemade tomato sauce and garnish with a few basil leaves.