What Is Gnocchi And How Is It Made?

If there’s one thing Italy is famous for, it’s their delectable cuisine inspired by their unique culture. Gnocchi is one of those. The Roman custom of gnocchi Thursday (or giovedi gnocchi) dates back to the mid-19th century when the lower-class practiced food rationing to prepare for fasting. 

It was also a means to feed the whole family while spending less during the post-war era. People were forced to work physically strenuous jobs, so a nutritious dish as filling as gnocchi could instantly refuel their energy. 

Aside from its famous origin, gnocchi is also popular for another thing—it’s delicious. Its light texture makes this unique pasta dumpling a mouthwatering and versatile dish that’s easy to replicate.

This article will feature some of the best gnocchi recipes and how it’s made. 

The Three Types Of Gnocchi 

Gnocchi may have started with everyday ingredients, but people have created different versions of this delectable dish to their liking. You can also never go wrong with the classic versions. Some typical recipes from many generations are Gnocchi di Patate, Alla Romana, and Parisienne.

Gnocchi di Patate

Gnocchi di Patate or potato gnocchi is one of the most popular versions. It’s made with a mixture of eggs, potatoes, and flour, forming a paste-like dough.

Roll the dough, create the classic gnocchi’s classic shape, and place it in boiling water until it floats. 

Once cooked, you can pan-sear the gnocchi or gently stir it in your choice of sauce. Do your own thing, or opt for the usual creamy or red sauces. Another simple option is to sprinkle the cooked gnocchi with olive oil and herbs to satisfy your palate.

Gnocchi Parisienne

A Gnocchi Parisienne has a lighter and crispier dough than the potato gnocchi. Instead of potatoes, this French version of gnocchi uses herbs and cheese mixed with flour, egg, and water.

Unlike the usual gnocchi preparation, this version uses a piping bag to squeeze it straight into the boiling water. When the gnocchis are already floating, you can stir them with your favorite sauce or pair them with veggies. 

Gnocchi Alla Romana

This is a different take on the usual Potato Gnocchi or Gnocchi di Patate. If you want to add a little twist, this Roman version uses semolina, a coarse flour made from durum wheat. This version is cut into round disks instead of the usual gnocchi shape after the semolina is boiled in milk or water.

You can finish it with butter, egg yolks, and cheese before baking it to a crisp golden brown delight.

How To Make Gnocchi

The best thing about gnocchi is it can easily be your everyday staple because the ingredients are easy to find. You can start cooking your gnocchi with the usual Gnocchi di Patate. 

What you’ll need: 

  • 2 ¼ lbs (1 kg) red potatoes
  • 2 ¼ cups (300 g) flour
  • 1 medium egg
  • Fine salt to taste
  • Remilled durum wheat semolina to taste

Preparing Your Gnocchi

  1. Start by boiling your potatoes in a large pot for 30 to 40 minutes. Use a fork to check if the potatoes are soft enough to mash, then drain the water. 
  2. Create a fountain shape using your flour on the pastry board and mix the mashed potatoes.
  3. Add the beaten egg with a pinch of salt to the mixture and knead the dough.
  4. Using your hands, get a portion of the dough to create rope-shaped (around 2 cm thick) loaves.
    Tip: The ideal texture of the dough should be dry to touch but still holds together.
  5. You can use the semolina flour to roll it easier. Cover the rest of the unused dough with a towel so it won’t dry out. 
  6. Divide the loaves into chunks. Gently press it with your thumb using a gnocchi board, or use a fork to capture the signature gnocchi shape.
  7.  Sprinkle the semolina flour all over the board to avoid the dough from sticking. 
  8. Line up the gnocchi separately in a tray with a lightly floured cloth.
  9. Add the gnocchi in batches in boiling salted water. You’ll know your gnocchi is cooked and ready to be drained when it floats to the surface. 
  10. Season with salt and other preferred spices. 
  11. Place your excess potato gnocchi on a cloth for a couple of hours or freeze them in a food bag. You can boil the frozen gnocchi directly when you want to cook them again. 

Italian cuisine is derived from the people’s culture and history, but as time goes on, we’ve adapted it to modern tastes. Give any of the traditional gnocchi dishes a try, or make your own version.

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