Ever wondered how Ibby’s makes such masterful gnocchi? Thanks to WUSTL Dining Services, you can eat your pasta and learn to make it too.
The Studio40 kitchen in Bear’s Den is somewhat of a hidden gem at WashU. Upon request, professional chefs host interactive cooking lessons on a variety of topics including healthy eating, pastry arts and themed meals like gnocchi.
Although closely associated with pasta, gnocchi is actually considered a dumpling and originated in the 1300s in the Middle East, not Italy. These delicious lil nuggets can be made from different types of flour, potatoes, cheeses and even squash (butternut squash gnocchi is perfect for Thanksgiving). The most popular choice is classic potato.
The lesson began with peeling the skin off hot potatoes and pressing them through metal mesh. Mashing the potatoes while they are still warm helps create gnocchi’s fresh doughy texture. Whipped eggs and flour were then folded into the potatoes until just incorporated, being careful not to overwork the dough.
We rolled and cut the dough according to the chef’s special technique and immediately dropped them in a pot of boiling water. They key to perfectly cooked gnocchi is pretty simple – boil them for around 2 minutes until the dough is firm but not clumpy.
We topped half of the cooked gnocchi with alfredo sauce and the other half with sausage, grape tomatoes and pesto sauce, and served it all with a salad of fresh greens, olives, onions and sun-dried tomatoes. The uncooked leftovers were frozen in bags to take home and boil for a quick dinner later on.
If you get the chance, sign up for a Studio40 class or organize one for a group. You’ll not only leave with a full stomach, but also with gourmet leftovers, useful cooking skills and a newfound appreciation for WashU’s amazing quality of dining.