Fried Lemon Gnocchi with Basil

I like to use a potato ricer to make the gnocchi, but you can grate the potatoes on a box cheese grater, if you don't have a ricer or don't want to get one.  

Some cooks will insist that you only use russet potatoes for gnocchi but I have made gnocchi using yellow potatoes also (as I did for this post).  Potatoes are one of the vegetables I only buy organic and my store just doesn't carry organic russets very often.  Other potatoes work fine. 

serves 3 as a main, 6 as a side

1 lb, 12 ounces potatoes (approximately - don't obsess too much on this)
2 eggs, room temperature
3 lemons, zested and juiced
1.5 cups flour (approximately)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
parmigianno cheese, for grating (optional) 

Bake the potatoes for about an hour at 400 degrees F. or until they are soft.  After they cool a bit and you can handle them, peel them while they are still a bit warm.  Put the potatoes through a potato ricer (or grate them) into a mound on the counter.  Make a well in the center and break two eggs into the well.  Add the lemon zest to the eggs and beat them with a fork a little bit. Slowly incorporate the potatoes into the eggs and start adding some of the flour.  A pastry scraper helps a lot with this. Work the flour in until a nice dough forms.  Don't overwork the dough.  Add just enough flour so the dough is not too dry.   You want the dough to be slightly sticky.

Bring a large pot of water to boil.  Flour your counter a little bit and cut off about a third of the dough.  Roll it out into a log that is about one inch in diameter.  Use a little more flour if the dough sticks.  If you use too much flour, the dough will slip and not be easy to roll out.  It is a "feel" thing.  Cut the dough log into one-inch pieces. Flour well and place on a floured baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough - you will need a second baking sheet so the gnocchi aren't laying on top of each other. 

Combine the olive oil, butter and the lemon juice in a microwavable cup.  Microwave until butter melts. Set aside. Bring a large fry skillet to medium high heat on the stove.  Add about a third of the lemon butter mixture. With a spider or steel strainer, lower about 20 gnocchi into the boiling water. When they float to the top, let them simmer about 30 seconds and then lift them out with the strainer and place them in the skillet.  Fry for about a minute, or until the gnocchi brown a little.  Make sure the heat is high enough or they won't brown quickly. Remove the gnocchi and place in your serving dish.   Repeat with the remaining gnocchi, adding more or the lemon butter as you need it.  (If you add all the lemon butter at once, the gnocchi will steam instead of fry.)

Garnish with fresh basil.  If you want, you can zest more lemon on top also and/or add some grated cheese.

The Italian Dish
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