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 - the Italian way

Giovedì Gnocchi

Thursday is gnocchi day in Italy! How to make these delectable potato dumplings from scratch.

White bowl of gnocchi with butter and sage on a wooden table

Gnocchi are plural, one gnocco, two gnocchi.

Much like most of Italy's pasta - one spaghetto, two spaghetti, one fusillo, two fusilli and so forth. It might sound strange to hear, "Can I taste a fusillo?" But we do say it.

Why would you bother to make gnocchi from scratch you may ask.

And I feel the same because they're readily available to buy in so many delicious versions (chestnut and pumpkin gnocchi are my absolute favourite) plus in Italy you can find 'artigianato' gnocchi in supermarkets, meaning they're not made in a factory.

But I know so many Italian mums who would never dream of buying gnocchi, they always try to convince me to make them saying it’s as easy as pie. You can make a big batch of gnocchi because they freeze well and can be cooked from frozen for an easy meal so there’s no reason not to make them, is what they always say.

And they're right, homemade gnocchi are lusciously soft and special and delicious, there’s no doubt about it.

You'll see making them is actually surprisingly easy!

It's also a wonderful way to keep the kids entertained.

You don’t need anything particularly complicated to bring some floury fun to the kitchen on a dreary day. Potatoes, flour and an egg will keep everyone happily rolling out gnocchi sausages all afternoon, you can even get fancy with a fork or wooden gnocchi board but we never do...

and what better than homemade gnocchi for dinner when all is cleared away in the kitchen and you're left with trays and trays of gnocchi ready for the cooking.

Potato gnocchi freshly made on a floury wooden board

Rumour has it that the trick to good gnocchi that don’t fall apart is the type of potato you use. Farinosa, ‘floury’ is what they also say, although some might swear by waxy, we use white potatoes and they always work well as long as you knead the dough enough.

So here goes, it’s giovedì gnocchi, ‘Gnocchi Day’, the day you'll find trays of floury potato shapes for sale by the kilo in Italian pasta shops, bakeries and rosticcerie. Once in Rome, according to an ancient poem, Thursday was Gnocchi, Friday was Fish and Saturday was Tripe.

It's Thursday, so we’re making gnocchi.

Two white bowls of gnocchi with butter and sage sauce on a wooden table

There are so many sauces which accompany the fluffy potato pillows we all know and love - gorgonzola or quattro formaggi, four cheeses is favoloso, as is ragù or pesto genovese. You can’t go wrong with a simple sugo di pomodoro, tomato sauce but there's a classic condiment that is offered as a happy option in Italian restaurants to children who are undecided about the menu and that is burro e salvia - butter and sage.

It may sound like a simple combination and an easy cop out, but to taste gnocchi burro e salvia is to love them. If you get your hands on smoked ricotta, a grating of this soft but compact cheese brings the most beautiful smoky flavour, we always have Grana Padano in our fridge so that's what we tend to use.

Recipe for Homemade Gnocchi

Ingredients for 3-4 people

500 g white potatoes

125 g strong bread flour / 00 Italian Flour

1 egg

¼ teaspoon of grated nutmeg (optional)

½ teaspoon salt

Recipe for Butter & Sage Sauce

80 g butter

4 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil

Black pepper

30 g Ricotta Affumicata (smoked ricotta), Grana Padano or Parmigiano Reggiano

12 sage leaves

  1. To make the gnocchi, boil the potatoes (with the skins on) in a large pot of water for 20-30 minutes until cooked through and soft when poked with a fork.

  2. Remove the skins when the potatoes are cool enough to handle and use a passaverdura, vegetable mill or ricer to create a smooth consistency, you can also use a potato masher, just make sure there are no lumps.

  3. While the potato is warm, work directly on a clean surface or in a large bowl to mix in the egg, flour, salt and nutmeg and knead for a few moments to create a smooth, soft dough.

  4. Dust another clean surface with flour and roll sausages of dough roughly 2 cm thick with your hands. Using a sharp knife or dough cutter, slice 2 cm shapes and form them into pillows with your fingers or use a gnocchi board or fork to form grooves in each one with a downward sliding motion. This takes a bit of practice.

  5. To boil the gnocchi, put a large pot of salted water on to boil. Place the gnocchi into the boiling water and wait a few minutes until they rise to the top meaning they are done. Scoop the gnocchi from the pot with a slotted spoon or spider sieve and mix them into your sauce which has been warmed in a pan.

Recipe for Butter & Sage Sauce

80 g butter

4 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil

Black pepper

30 g Ricotta Affumicata (smoked ricotta), Grana Padano or Parmigiano Reggiano

12 sage leaves

  1. Make the sauce by using a deep saucepan to melt the butter with the oil and gently fry the sage leaves on a very low heat, move the pan off the heat if the butter begins to brown. After 2 minutes, take out the sage and let it drain on a sheet of kitchen paper towel. If you love crispy sage leaves, let them toast a little longer in the butter. 

  2. Place the gnocchi into the pan of buttery sauce and spoon into bowls with the sage leaves and a sprinkling of black pepper and grated cheese.


Freeze gnocchi on a sheet of parchment paper and when frozen, keep them in sealed bags for 1 month to be cooked straight from frozen. They only last a day in the fridge so I always recommend freezing them immediately for later use.

Buon giovedì e buon gnocchi!

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