No Fuss Gnocchi

gnocchiI think everyone who has ever met me knows how I feel about potatoes. Pretty much a full food group in my life, I am never without a bag of spuds. My idea of treating myself is to buy a different sort for each recipe and mull over the merits of Anyas, King Edwards, Desirees and Kerr Pinks. I’ve even grown my own and spent hours on the internet trying to find the elusive Yukon Gold. I’m either slightly obessive or painfully stereotypically Irish.

So imagine how pained I was when I went to buy a bag of bog basic white spuds last week and they were a mindbending £2.40 for 2.5 kilos. At the rate I consume potatoes that’s bumped my shopping budget up to a point where there’s just not much wiggle room. I had two options: stop eating potatoes or find a cheaper option.

Obviously I went for the latter and decided to play around with the bag of Sainsbury’s Basics Instant Mashed Potato I bought a while back as a cheaper gluten free alternative to breadcrumbs and batter. 125g of dry mash and 150ml milk and 425ml water makes 695g of mash, meaning one 250g bag costing 49p makes well over a kilo of mash.

Unfortunately I have bad memories of instant mash from school dinners where it came served in uniform scoops with a oddly powdery texture. It needed so much butter that it would be heartstopping in cost and health consequences. So what was I going to do with my mountain of mash now?

Older, wiser and more versed in the potato dishes of the world, that’s an easy one. I’m going to make gnocchi with it. And potato bread. Then I’m going to marvel at how quick both are and how I suddenly feel like one of those home economics teachers from the 70s by telling you this.

Gnocchi: serves 2

  • 695g instant mashed potato (cooked weight)
  • 175g plain flour
  • salt and pepper

Make your instant mash according the instructions (you can use all water if you’re lactose intolerant). Allow to cool for about 10 minutes and then add in about 145g of the plain flour, mixing well. I do this when wearing rubber gloves because I have the opposite of asbestos hands and can’t handle hot stuff easily.

The dough should become soft and supple but slightly sticky. If it’s just sticky, add the other 30g of flour in and knead until it’s right. Divide the mixture in half and put half of it on a floured work surface. Leave half in the pan and then divide the portion on the surface in half again.

Roll each half out into a long snake about an inch thick and then cut into 3/4 inch pieces with a sharp knife. Press each one with the tines of a fork and place them on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. These can be made in advance and kept covered with a tea towel until needed or they can be frozen at this stage.

I cooked mine by boiling them for about 3 minutes or until they floated to the top of the pan. I drained them before serving with a mixture of fresh and confit tomatoes, fresh basil and parmesan and they were fantastic. Very light, not at all rubbery and much more successful than my previous attempts. I might oven bake or fry them next time for cheap luxury.

You’ll be wondering what happens with the other half of the mash. You can of course make more gnocchi with it and freeze it, but I used it to make potato bread for my favourite breakfast. It’s basically the rolled out version of the gnocchi dough, but fried for added loveliness.

Take the remaining dough and place on a floured surface. Roll out to a about a 1cm thick and then cut into 6 farls or pieces. Wrap in layers of greaseproof paper, folding it over on each farl to keep them from sticking and store in the fridge for up to 5 days or freeze until needed.

In total, both dishes took about 15 minutes to make including doing the mash and without the extra washing up and prep of a normal potato. I’m still not sure I’d tuck into a big plate of plain instant mash, but for gnocchi and tattie bread, I’m not sure I’ll go back! Time to smash the potato-archy!

cooked gnocchi

20 replies
  1. Amy Rowan
    Amy Rowan says:

    Ha ha, I made instant mash (cheap Aldi version) gnocchi last week, it was awesome!! I’m going to make the potato bread next

  2. Miss South
    Miss South says:

    Amy: I was so chuffed with myself for working this out! It really is a great dish, perfect if you wanted to impress people with a quick after work meal. I sense a small obsession coming on!

  3. Miss Messy
    Miss Messy says:

    Oh my this is an awesome idea! Why did I never this of this.
    I have a UK giveaway going on over at my blog at the moment btw if you want to check it out 🙂

  4. Amy Rowan
    Amy Rowan says:

    I’ve got a book out from the library called The Leftovers Handbook – I got the idea from that!!

  5. Caitriona
    Caitriona says:

    The price of potatoes in the supermarket is ridiculous at the moment and I can’t figure out why they’re so expensive when they’re so cheap direct from the producer. I’ve spotted spuds from one farm that is 10 times the price the producer is being paid. Unfortunately there isn’t a huge tradition of using dried mash around here so it’s equally as expensive.
    PS: I love the picture of them all lined up in a row on the tray. Great shot.

  6. Amy Murnan
    Amy Murnan says:

    I love it when you find like minded people on food blogs – potatoes are my best friends. I also LOVE gnocci but tried making it recently and it went so badly wrong – like a big lump of greyish mush. I’ll have to try your recipe!

  7. Miss South
    Miss South says:

    Catriona: funnily enough, I was thinking of you when I was making this as I think we’d despaired about spud prices on Twitter and because I wondered if Ireland would be different? I think one of the problems was that last year was so wet, the potato harvest in the British Isles was failed and so more had to be imported, raising prices. I’ve certainly noticed the quality has gone down since then. Then of course you get the supermarkets trying to make money on them and I wonder how badly the producer is suffering?

  8. Miss South
    Miss South says:

    Amy Rowan: I need this book! I love stuff like that!

    Amy Murnan: I have never got on with gnocchi before either. Gluey has been the operative word. These were so easy, I almost thought I’d forgotten something crucial, but nope, they are just super easy! And glue free!

  9. Becs @ Lay the table
    Becs @ Lay the table says:

    I love gnocchi! I have to confess I did used to buy it from the supermarket quite a lot, then made it once myself and couldn’t believe how much easier it is than making regular pasta. Good work 🙂

  10. Miss South
    Miss South says:

    Becs: the first time I made gnocchi, it took hours and almost ended in tears. This was so easy in comparison! And tasted much better. Might try it with spinach next…

    Amy Rowan: good to know they worked GF. Was going to play around with rice flour next time to see if that works too!

  11. Lesley
    Lesley says:

    Gnocchi are on my (very long!) list of dishes to do on my £1 a day blog! Would never have thought of using instant mash for them. A couple of people have been using instant mash lately and I haven’t got round to trying it myself yet. We have a smallish Sainsbury in Heathfield where I live, I’ll have a look and see if they stock it.
    I have made gnocchi successfully with ordinary spuds in the past and usually have them with a tomato sauce and basil. Delicious cheap meal
    Great post re Mr O btw

  12. Miss South
    Miss South says:

    Lesley: the instant mash is just the right texture for gnocchi. I’ve had issues doing it with fresh before. I think the whole batch cost me about 20p. I’m about to sit down with a nice value digestive from Sainsbury’s and a cuppa and have a good read of your blog.

  13. Lesley
    Lesley says:

    Oh fab, hope you like it. Sainsbury didn’t have any own brand mash, just Smash, so I tried the CoOp and they had some for 49p, makes a kilo, very excited, can try them now. DP said that sounds like it would be nice with courgette, runner beans (both of which are growing in the garden) and a bit of sweetcorn as a fried patty, so I’ll do some for him.
    Loved the Tweet about Parmesan chips, made me laugh

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