Egads. What a mess, eh?
The above mishmash looks like nothing much, but it smelled and tasted incredible. This was homemade gnocchi, spicy Italian sausage, parsley, and Alfredo sauce. Very delectable, and there's more where that came from.
I had a frozen lump of mashed potatoes that had been sitting in my freezer for a couple months; last night, I got the idea of making gnocchi, so I put the potatoes out on a table to let them thaw overnight, then the next evening, I combined the potatoes with flour and and egg, kneaded the mass into a dough ball, cut the ball into fourths, rolled and stretched each fourth into a snake, then chopped the snake into segments—segments that ended up being too large, but no matter. Live and learn. I boiled the gnocchi, scooped the pieces out when they began to float, then pan-fried the whole mess in butter and olive oil until the pieces had crunchy patches of brown on them. Everything smelled and tasted incredible at that point, but the deed wasn't done: I next added the cooked and drained Italian sausage, followed by heavy cream and parmesan cheese to form an Alfredo. I threw in some powdered garlic, oregano, and chili flakes, then finally added a giant handful of minced fresh parsley. Heaven.
None of this is healthy, of course, but instead of wolfing down all 4000 calories' worth, I stopped halfway, packaged the remaining half into three mini-meals that I'll savor over the next few days, and voilà—Alfredo gnocchi with sausage. I washed my dishes a couple hours ago, but the lovely aroma of dinner still lingers.
The gnocchi's taste and texture were perfect; it was the size that was the problem. That's an easy fix: I can either cut the snake-segments smaller next time or, if I make the pieces too large again, I can snip the pieces in half after boiling.
Given gnocchi's simplicity, I get the impression that it's a dish that's hard to mess up. You're looking for a consistency that's soft and chewy, offering a bit of bouncy resistance in every bite, but not enough resistance to remind you of a squeaky cheese curd. People use adjectives like "pillowy" and even "fluffy" to describe gnocchi; I can understand "pillowy," but "fluffy" seems a bit far-fetched: gnocchi isn't exactly a light dish, and a bit like German Spätzle, it's best in small doses.