© Paula Trites
Gnocchi are small, Italian dumplings made from flour, salt, and egg.
Regional variations add potato, squash, etc to the recipe. From Rome north, potato Gnocchi are very popular. Gnocchi made with squash are popular in Lombardy and Veneto; bread Gnocchi and spinach Gnocchi are popular in southern Italy.
The dumplings are simmered briefly in water, and then served with a sauce.
They are similar to what the Ukrainians call “Lazy Varenkiki.”
Gnocchi are expensive to buy at supermarkets, compared to how cheap they are to make. But they are very fiddly to form by hand. Try piping out 1/2 inch (1 cm) thick strips from a piping bag, which you then cut up into pieces.
Potato Gnocchi should be made with floury potatoes (see entry on Potatoes.) If you’re in North America, don’t be fooled by the notion of “all-purpose potatoes.” No potato is truly all-purpose, and nowhere is that clearer than in making Gnocchi. If you don’t use floury potatoes in making Gnocchi, it will all end in tears.
When Gnocchi hit the hot water, the flour on the surface of the Gnocchi almost instantly forms a seal around the Gnocchi, to keep the water from penetrating right through. But don’t ever let them boil, as the raucous motion of the water will break this seal. Keep water simmering.
Literature & Lore
There is an Italian expression, “giovedi gnocchi”, which we’d say in English as “gnocchi on Thursday.” It was the day on which people in many parts of Italy traditionally made gnocchi, particularly in Rome and Naples. Many restaurant menus in Italy still only offer gnocchi on Thursday.
It’s a tradition that’s falling by the wayside, though, if only because now that you can get them ready-made at the stores, it’s easy to have them more often that that.