Ina Garten's Bechamel sauce and Gnocchi

I had a sudden craving for Gnocchi a few days ago and I remembered making it with my mom a few years ago. Unfortunately it was too late to call and ask her for the recipe so I did a little googling and found a recipe that I tweaked with some shortcuts.

Now when I say shortcut- it is still took me over 2 hours to make, but then I had a little sous-chef who sat impatiently in his high chair behind me in the kitchen, waving his yellow baby spoon in the air and dropping it accidentally-on-purpose several hundred times making loud squeals or puppydog faces until I picked it up for him. I was covered in flour by the end of the process which though simple is a little more work than I had bargained for. The next time I make gnocchi, I will make it beforehand , even a couple of months before and freeze the uncooked little pillows in zip lock bags. Here are some tips and tricks to make the easy but time consuming process of making gnocchi from scratch just a little bit shorter.
First- Instead of boiling the potatoes, I cooked them in the microwave
Second- Instead of mashing them by hand, I whipped them up in my stand mixer- a hand mixer or food processor will work too.

Bechamel sauce with Mushrooms or Carmelized onions
Recipe source: Ina Garten from Deb of Smittenkitchen's blog here
This is a basic bechamel or white sauce recipe which you can customize and use for various pastas. Deb used it for lasagna in her post.
I didn't have mushrooms. But I had already decided to make it so I decided that I would use carmelized onions instead. See, never panic! 

Ingredients: Serves 6 to 8 
  • Salt
  • Olive oil
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 3/4 cup (12 tablespoons or 1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, divided- (I only used half a stick)
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg (I skipped this)
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes ( optional- my addition)
  • 2 tsp dried oregano ( optional-my addition)
  • 1 1/2 pounds cremini or portobello mushrooms ( I used 1 large onion chopped fine and carmelized instead)
  • 1/4 cup bacon crumbles ( optional-my addition- you can also use cooked sausage)
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan
  • 1/4 cup chopped cheddar cheese ( Optional- my addition)

  • In a large sauce pan heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat
  • Cook half the mushrooms with a couple pinches of salt for about 5 minutes, or until they are tender and release some of their juices, tossing to make sure they cook evenly. 
  • Repeat with additional oil and butter, and remaining mushrooms
  • Since I didn't have mushrooms I decided to cook about 1/4 cup bacon crumbles and carmelize onions instead and sauteed them until well brown. Then I added a clove of garlic -minced and sauteed some more until fragrant.  Remove from pan and keep aside (maybe in the dish you will be serving it it)
  •  Bring the milk to simmer in a saucepan, or heat it in your microwave, and set it aside.
  • Take the sauce pan you cooked the mushrooms/onions in and melt 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons or 1 stick) butter 
  • Deb suggests also to brown the butter slightly, too- only for a few mins until it melts sizzles and turns a light brown and smells nutty. Be careful it doesn't burn
  • Add the flour and cook for one minute over low heat, stirring constantly with a whisk or wooden spoon. 
  • Pour in the hot milk, a little at a time at first and stirring until combined. 
  • Once you’ve added half of it and there are no lumps, you can add the second half all at once, along with 1 1/2 teaspoons table salt, the pepper, 1 tsp chilli flakes and 2 tsp dried oregano and nutmeg ( if using). 
  • Add the carmelized onions reserving about one fourth of it to sprinkle on top later.
  • I also added 1/4 cup cheddar cheese as well as 1/4 cup parmesan cheese and stirred to melt it
  • Cook over medium-low heat, stirring or whisking frequently, for 3 to 5 minutes, or until thick. Set aside.

Recipe source: Margie Dorrian for from here
Ingredients: ( The original recipe yeilded a quantity to serve 8-10. I halved the recipe so the following is what I used) 
  • 1lb potatoes
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese (optional-my additions)
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder (optional-my additions)

  • Cover potatoes with cold water by 1 inch in a 4-qt saucepan and add 2 Tbsp salt, then simmer until tender. ( or cook them in the microwave- simply cut them into small cubes, sprinkle salt and cook covered for about 5 mins. Then mix them up and cook for anoter 5 mins until fork tender.
  • When cool enough to handle, peel potatoes and force through ricer or strainer( if you want it to be really smooth- I skipped this step) into bowl of mixer.
  •  Add 3 cups flour and egg and mix at low speed until dough comes together in a ball, about 5 minutes. ( You can also do this by hand)
  • Knead dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth, adding just enough flour to keep dough from sticking, about 5 minutes. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature 30 minutes.
  • Divide dough into 6 pieces. Keeping remaining dough covered with a kitchen towel (not terry cloth), roll 1 portion into 1/2-inch-thick rope, dusting your hands with flour if dough is sticky. Cut rope crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces, then toss with flour to coat pieces completely.
  • Cook gnocchi in batches in a pasta pot of boiling salted water (3 Tbsp salt for 6 qt water) until they float, then boil until tender, about 2 more minutes. Transfer to a platter and cover with some sauce as cooked.
  • Uncooked gnocchi can be frozen (first in 1 layer, then transferred to a sealable plastic bag) up to 1 month. Do not thaw before cooking. Put them in boiling water straight from the freezer as above

If the gnocchi has cooled before serving, simply tip them all out into the boiling water and cook for an additional minute then strain them out and place in serving dish. Pour the sauce over. Sprinkle the remaining browned onions.

Since nothing is more comforting to the soul than a hearty pasta dish and since this can be served to your valentine in little spoonfulls, I am sending this over to this month's Monthly Mingle hosted at Paulchen's Food Blog.


  1. I keep meaning to make my own gnocchi. One of my future challenges this year. I love this sauce. it looks so creamy and delicious. How nice to have a sous-chef, even a really, really tiny one.

  2. Great tip about making the gnocci in advance. I'm going to make up a batch this weekend.

  3. Thanks for sharing this informative blog..Keep posting.
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