Gnocchi are soft dough dumplings that are speculated to come from the Italian word nocca, meaning knuckle. Traditionally, gnocchi are made from semolina, wheat flour, egg, cheese, potato and breadcrumbs, giving them a light, airy texture that makes them perfect for a first course meal. Read on to find out everything you need to know about gnocchi.
There are many regions in Italy that claim that gnocchi originated from their area. While gnocchi are heavily associated with Northern Italy due to the colder climate, they can be found all over the peninsula. Potato gnocchi dates back to the 16th and 17th centuries when Spanish explorers brought potatoes from South America. In the 19th century, Italian chef Pellegrino Artusipublished a recipe book for potato gnocchi that are prepared in a similar way today.
Regardless, every region in Italy has a different version of cooking and serving gnocchi. In Piedmont and Lombardy, gnocchi are tossed in a dressing of butter and parmesan. In Verona, gnocchi are served in tomato sauce, while in Venice, chefs bake gnocchi in the oven with butter and cheese. In all regions, most people prefer gnocchi to be softer and more flavourful.
Gnocchi can be overwhelming to make if you don’t know the correct steps. But once you do, it’s one of the easiest Italian dishes to create. The first step is to wash the unpeeled potatoes and place them in a large pot. Cover them with cold water and bring to a boil. Add a pinch of salt and cook uncovered until the potatoes are tender all the way through, then drain the potatoes and let them cool. The next step is to cut the potatoes in half and place them into a potato ricer. Mix the egg yolks into the mashed potato then add cheese and flour. Knead gently until the dough is soft and light.
It’s important to divide the dough into four portions. Start by rolling one of the portions into a long rope about 1.5cm in thickness. Cut the rope into small squares and roll one at a time down, and let it drop onto a lightly floured surface. Place the gnocchi into a saucepan and stir gently until the gnocchi float to the top. Transfer into a large bowl and serve.
Gnocchi can be served in a variety of different ways, with popular ingredients including tomato, spinach, ricotta, mushroom, blue cheese and pesto. A common way to cook gnocchi is with pumpkin and sage.To make pumpkin and sage gnocchi, roastthe pumpkinand cut it into cubes before adding it to a sage burnt butter sauce. To make the sage burnt butter sauce, melt butter in a fry pan and cook until it starts to brown. Add chopped sage leaves and cook for one minute until crisp. Remove the sage from the frying pan, drain on paper towel and pour over gnocchi for a delicious meal of potato gnocchi with pumpkin sauce.