When talking about Italian food, pasta such as linguini, rigatoni ravioli or fettuccini always come to mind, as well as pizzas and gelatos, which have earned a place in our preferences as the favorite foods of many.
Italian food is not only about wheat pasta dishes. There are many recipes that, despite not being as popular as the first ones, are part of the traditional cuisine of this country: patate un tecia, rabbit stew, piadinas, Mediterranean fritatta or pesto trapanese.
Gnocchis are a very popular dish both in Italy and in the south of France -particularly in the region of Nice-, and are part of the culinary variety that can be found in the wide menu of Italian pasta.
In this post you will know more about gnocchis, their origin, their elaboration process, and you will learn how to make these ones with our delicious recipe of gnocchi alla sorrentina to expand your gastronomic knowledge and learn more about Italian cuisine.
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A potato-based delicacy
Gnocchis are a type of pasta made with potatoes, flour (corn flour, chestnut, pumpkin pulp, spinach, etc.) and ricotta cheese.
In Italy, the term gnocchi is used to refer to a wide range of pasta, although the most common are potato gnocchi. Others are prepared alla romana, with semolina and even corn flour of the cornstarch type, with regional and local variations.
Although gnocchi are typical of Italian and Southeast France cuisine, there are dishes with similar preparation in Austrian (Schupfnudeln), French, German, Hungarian, Slovenian, and Polish cuisine, Even in some South American countries like Argentina, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay, this pasta has become quite popular .
Born as an option to rising prices
The origin of the potato gnocchi is due to a particular economic crisis that occurred in rural Italy – still under feudal and semi-feudal regimes – around 1880.
The signori (feudal lords) used to be the owners of the mills where the contadini (peasants) milled wheat to make wheat flour with which they prepared their pasta. One day the signori decided to increase the prices that the contadini must pay to be able to mill the wheat. Faced with the sudden rise in the price of wheat flour, Italian peasants successfully experimented with a flour substitute: mashed potatoes.
With this mashed potato mixed with milk, butter and wheat flour, they started making a dough and then small dumplings of about one inch, which were then boiled in water. A new food was started.
An Italian food with some variants
A well-known variety in the regions of Friuli, Venezia Giulia and Trentino-Alto Adige is called gnocchi di pane, and is made with breadcrumbs.
In France, potato gnocchi is also a specialty, specifically in the Nice region. It is known as gnocchi de tantifla (potato gnocchi in Occitan dialect). There is also a gnocchi made of flour, potato, egg and chard called gnocchi vert (green gnocchi).
In South America, especially in Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay, the most common gnocchi is potato gnocchi, although cornstarch and polenta gnocchi are also consumed, and are sometimes colored green with spinach. Other even more complex recipes are gnocchis made with pumpkin puree, or gnocchi with prawns or gnocchi soufflé.
The authentic gnocchi recipe with all the flavor of Naples
Here is a delicious recipe of gnocchi alla sorrentina that you can make at home for you and your family.
- 1 pound of boiled potato with skin.
- 1/3 pound of flour.
- 1 large egg yolk.
- 1 pinch of salt.
- 1 can of crushed tomato.
- 1 onion.
- 2 cloves of garlic.
- Some basil leaves.
- Olive oil.
- Grana Padano cheese.
- To start with your homemade gnocchi recipe, cook the potatoes in plenty of water until they release easily when pricked with a fork, this can take between ½ hour and 45 minutes.
- Peel the potatoes while hot and pass them through a potato masher. Add the egg yolk and salt and mix. Incorporate the flour little by little, it is not necessary to knead, only to blend the ingredients. Even if it is sticky as soon as you can make a ball it is enough.
- Sprinkle flour on the table and, with portions of dough, form 1″ thick sticks. Cut into small pieces and, pressing a little with your finger to shape them round. If you do not have a board to make gnocchi, you can make them on the table or with a fork to make the characteristic grooves.
- Prepare the tomato sauce: Chop the onion and garlic and cook in a frying pan with a dash of oil. Add salt and, when they begin to take color, add the crushed tomato and let it reduce a little. Add the basil leaves and cook for a minute.
- Put a pot with plenty of water and a pinch of salt on the fire. When it starts to boil, add the gnocchi. When they float, remove them to the pan with the tomato sauce. Cook everything together for one or two minutes and serve.
- As soon as you finish making them, you should boil them immediately. When the dough rests, gnocchis get wet and need more flour, so they could become too stiff when they are cooked.
- If you have left many you can freeze them before cooking. First they must be put in a tray inside the freezer, not touching one another, and after 50-60 minutes they will be cold enough to put them in a container without the risk of sticking.