A gnocchi recipe is a MUST in any Italian cook's "easy pasta recipes" repertoire.
These tiny dumplings go well with a number of different sauces, and can be prepared and stored for up to 48 hours before serving.
Just be aware that the secret ingredient in gnocchi is potatoes, and there are some people who avoid eating potatoes due to a sensitivity to nightshade foods.
If you aren't familiar with your guests' dietary habits, you might want to check for any sensitivities since most types of pastas don't contain potatoes.
First things first, boil the potatoes in a large pot until they are soft (test this by sticking a fork in one - if it goes in without resistance, they're done!) It usually takes about 40-45 minutes. Press through a potato press into a large glass bowl and set aside.
In a large pot, bring about 5-6 quarts of water to a boil. While the water is heating up, prepare an ice bath in another pot or large bowl, containing about 5-6 cups of water and 5-6 cups of ice.
Transfer the potatoes onto a clean, hard surface - like a table, counter or large cutting board. Make well in the center of the potatoes and then sprinkle all over with the flour. Crack the egg into the well, and then add a pinch of salt to it as well.
Take a fork, and start mixing and stirring the ingredients together. After you've mixed in the egg, start bringing the dough together from the outside in, kneading it with your hands gently until you are left with a ball of dough. Keep kneading it gently for another 3-4 minutes until the dough is dry to the touch.
Separate the dough into orange-sized pieces. On a lightly floured surface, roll these into long dowel shapes, about 3/4 to almost 1 inch wide. Using a fork, cut gnocchi from the dowel at 1 inch intervals. Drop each piece of pasta into the boiling water and allow to cook for about 1 minute each, or until they float. Then take each gnoccho and throw it in the ice bath to stop the cooking process.
Repeat these steps until all of your pasta is cut, boiled and chilled. Let them rest in the cold water for a few minutes and then move to a new container.
At this time you can toss them with the oil to keep them from sticking to each other and store them covered in a refrigerator for up to 48 hours. If you'd rather serve them right away, have a serving bowl of your favorite red or white sauce hot and ready to go nearby, then just transfer the boiled pasta to the bowl, toss and serve immediately. Yum!