Transform Last Night’s Mashed Potatoes into Delicious Gnocchi
During the week, we’re often busy, and it’s hard to find time for a good meal. It may be tempting to get fast food or take out yet again, but that can get expensive. What if we told you that you can effectively do most of the work for two meals at the same time? That’s the thinking behind our leftover series, in which we’ve already turned leftover pork loin into pulled pork sandwiches, leftover brisket into Philly-style cheesesteaks, and a chicken dinner into chicken pot pie the next day. Now, we’re cranking it up a notch.
We have a way to elevate a leftover side dish (not even the main dish) by taking mashed potatoes and turning them into a luxurious pasta dish. If you’re a regular reader of Medicareful Living, you’ll likely be familiar with gnocchi, an Italian potato pasta. While our previous article on this dish was a healthy approach to gnocchi, this time we’re taking full advantage of the rich, creamy possibilities gnocchi possesses.
The Mashed Potatoes
First come the potatoes from the night before. Much like the gnocchi, we’ve previously written about how to make healthier mashed potatoes. That’s going to the wayside today. This full fat recipe is packed with flavor that will carry through to the next day. We’ll be using Russet potatoes since they’re high in starch and absorb liquid better than other potatoes. To the milk and cream, we’ll add garlic to infuse a little extra flavor. Make sure to strain the milk and cream when you add it to the potatoes, so you’re not randomly finding large chunks of garlic. Creamy and smooth is the name of the mashed potato game.
We’ve also made sure to make the recipe big enough to have leftovers for tomorrow. As tasty as these potatoes are, they aren’t the main dish, so you can probably get away with only using about two to three potatoes worth with the meal if you’re serving four people. For an idea of measurements, a half-of-a-cup scoop should be more than enough for one person.
- Wash, peel, and cube six medium Russet potatoes.
- Roughly chop four cloves of garlic.
- Bring roughly eight cups of salted water to a boil in a steamer.
- Drop the peeled potatoes into the steaming tray over the boiling water.
- Bring the water to a simmer at low heat, cover the steamer, and cook the potatoes until they’re soft. This should take 15 to 20 minutes.
- While the potatoes are steaming, add the milk, butter, cream, and garlic into a small sauce pot over low heat.
- Heat the pot until the butter has melted and the milk is hot. Don’t allow it to boil — you just want it hot.
- Drain the water and place the potatoes in a large bowl.
- Mash potatoes with a masher, wooden spoon, or (best of all) a potato ricer.
- Pour a little warmed milk, butter, and cream into a finer, mesh strainer, held over the potatoes, and mix. Be sure to strain the garlic out of the milk mixture.
- Continue to add the mixture a little at a time, straining out the garlic cloves, and mixing until the potatoes reach the desired consistency.
- Add salt and pepper to taste and serve!
Cacio e Pepe Gnocchi
It’s now the next day, and you have the leftover mashed potatoes. Time to turn them into gnocchi! Gnocchi can be flavored a number of different ways, but for this leftover transformation, we’re using an old Roman recipe — cacio e pepe. Meaning literally cheese and pepper, the ingredients of this dish couldn’t be simpler. For the best results, you’ll want a Pecorino Romano cheese and fresh cracked pepper. If you’re in a rush, parmesan will work, but the taste will be different.
The other important aspect of this recipe is the making of the dough. The amount of flour you need depends on how much of your mashed potatoes you have left. Our recipe calls for about two cups of flour, but you may need more or less. The important thing is to get your pasta dough to the right consistency, roughly to the feel of playdough. It’s very important that you add a little flour at a time so that the dough doesn’t become too dry and firm. Another thing to note, you’ll want to have friends over for this recipe. It makes a lot.
Cacio e Pepe Gnocchi
- In a large bowl, mix one egg and two tablespoons of flour into the leftover mashed potatoes.
- Place the dough mixture onto a lightly floured surface and begin kneading the dough.
- Add flour to mashed potato mixture two tablespoons at a time until it reaches a proper doughy texture. It should be firm with a little give.
- Divide the dough into quarters and roll each quarter into thin tubes (think playdough snakes from when you were a kid).
- With a floured butter knife, cut the dough tubes into one- to one-and-a-half-inch pieces. As you cut, make a small indent in the center of each gnocco (a singular gnocchi dumpling) and set aside.
- Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and add the gnocchi to the pot. When they float, they’re cooked. Remove the cooked gnocchi from the water with a slotted spoon. If you need to do them in batches, that’s fine, just set the cooked dumplings aside.
- While the gnocchi are cooking, finely shred about two cups of Pecorino Romano cheese. In a small bowl, mix one cup of Pecorino Romano with two tablespoons of freshly cracked black pepper. Save the rest for if you need more sauce.
- Add half a cup of pasta water to the cheese and pepper mixture and stir. This will create a thick cheese sauce.
- Once the gnocchi are all cooked, set the water aside (since we’re not sure how much mashed potatoes you started with, it’s better to reserve as much of the water as you can since you don’t have to use it all).
- Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over low heat and add in the cooked gnocchi.
- Lightly sauté the gnocchi for a few minutes before adding the cheese sauce.
- Add more pasta water if the sauce is too dry. If there’s too much water, add the reserved cheese and pepper. Continue this until the gnocchi are all evenly and thoroughly covered.
- Taste and add salt and pepper before serving!