I’ve always held a soft spot in my heart for Gnocchi. It’s rich, hearty, and can be served six ways to Sunday! For me it’s a treat, but for many it’s a common meal that’s been around for centuries. It’s so popular in Italy that they’ve dedicated an entire day to it! Thursdays are Gnocchi night and that is a beautiful thing.
The name Gnocchi is infamous for it’s origin; as in no one really knows where the name was derived. Some believe it’s germanic in decent and means “knot.” Others believe it’s Italian and translates to “gnarl,” or or “knuckle.” One thing can be said for sure, it’s DELICIOUS.
Gnocchi, a type of dumpling served similarly to pasta, comes in many forms. While potato gnocchi is surely the most popular route to go, as well as the route I honored for #PotatoWeek, it can actually be made many different ways and from many different ingredients.
The most common types of Gnocchi are: Gnocchi di Patate, alla Romana, and Parisienne.
Gnocchi di Patate
This type of Gnocchi is the most prevalent around the world and my method of choice. It’s made by combining egg, potato, and flour into a paste-like dough. The dough is then rolled into ropes, sliced into pillow-like-cubes, boiled until they float to the surface of the water, and finished off with a pan sear in which ever sauce you desire.
Like pasta, you could top off Gnocchi with a rich cream sauce, an extravagant marinara, or even a simple olive oil and herb concoction. The possibilities are endless. Being the sauce man that I am, I always make my gnocchi with little grooves that help hold the sauce and maximize the sauce-to-gnocchi ratio.
Gnocchi alla Romana
The Roman version of this dish is made quite differently, but provides that same bite and a similar flavor as the Gnocchi di Patate, or Potato Gnocchi. Rather than using potatoes and flour, this type of Gnocchi is made using semolina, a coarse grind of high-protein durum wheat similar to polenta. The Semolina is boiled in milk or water, spread onto a baking sheet to cool and harden, and lastly cut into round disks. The disks are layered into a baking dish and topped with butter, cheese, and an assortment of other tasty toppings that make your mouth water and stomachs growl. It’s baked to golden brown perfection and served straight from the hot pan. Makes my mouth water just thinking about the hot ooey, gooey, goodness that is Gnocchi alla Romana!
Of all the renditions of Gnocchi, the Gnocchi Parisienne is the most nostalgic. Some of you may know I used to work as a chef at Chef Thomas Keller’s Beverly Hills restaurant, Bouchon Bistro. If Bouchon being owned and operated by one of the most esteemed chefs in the business isn’t enough to bring you into their glorious doors, they are also known for their Gnocchi Parisienne, or Herb Gnocchi.
The french take on Gnocchi, these are made using pâte à choux, or simply put, a combination of flour, egg, and water, often mixed with herbs and cheese. The mixture is then scooped into a piping bag, piped and cut directly into a pot of boiling water. When the Gnocchi is done cooking, it floats to the top. Same as you would the Potato Gnocchi, you would pan sear these with your favorite sauce, or veggies as we did at Bouchon.
This method is surely the most user friendly and leaves you with a lighter, airier, crisp dough.
Each variation of Gnocchi is grand on it’s own accord. Some interpretations of the dish are certainly easier to make than others and some may appeal to you more than others…but that is the beauty of Gnocchi. It represents versatility at its finest!
I urge you to give this recipe a try and even take it a step further by adding your own unique twist! If ever there was a signature recipe to hold in your back pocket, this is it. Friends and family alike will beg you to make this for every event and may even hold some just for the sake of enjoying this SCRUMPTIOUS and timeless treat. Enjoy!