What Is Gnocchi?

Have you ever been eating a big bowl of pasta and thought, “You know what would go great with this? A big freaking potato!” Well then friend, do I have the food for you: gnocchi! What is gnocchi made of? Is it just potatoes? What is gnocchi? Or should I say, what are gnocchi? Is gnocchi even pasta? We’ll get answers to all these questions and more, faster than you can say gnocchi. 

What is gnocchi?

So what are gnocchi? Gnocchi are small, soft, chewy lumps of dough mixed with other ingredients to create dumpling-like lumps of pasta. But wait, is gnocchi pasta or a dumpling? 

Is gnocchi pasta?

Gnocchi is pasta and it also is not pasta. It really depends on who you ask and what version you make. The general consensus among classic Italian chefs is that gnocchi is a dumpling that is eaten like pasta. The first gnocchi was typically made with either breadcrumbs or straight up seminola flour. That flour based gnocchi would probably be considered pasta. But after the 16th century, potatoes and tomatoes made their way to Italy and potato gnocchi became all the rage. Those little doughy balls typically only had flour as a binding agent instead of the star. So those were considered more of a dumpling.

What is gnocchi made of?

More often than not, if you go out to an Italian restaurant and order gnocchi, you’re going to get potato gnocchi. Potato gnocchi is made out of potatoes, flour, and eggs. You can also throw some salt, cheese, and semolina flour in there, if you want to get fancy. Another type of gnocchi is ricotta gnocchi, which is made with ricotta cheese, flour, and egg yolks. Lesser known types of gnocchi in the U.S. include bread gnocchi (made with a base of torn bread soaked in milk), semolina gnocchi aka gnocchi alla Romana (made with semolina flour), and gnocchi Parisienne (made with pâte à choux, the same dough used to make eclairs and gougeres). 

Is gnocchi vegan?

Most gnocchi recipes include some sort of animal product such as egg, cheese, or milk, so it is not traditionally vegan. 

Is gnocchi gluten free?

Even though potato gnocchi is made with a base of mashed or riced potato, there is still usually some flour used as a binder, so gnocchi are not gluten free. But there are some gluten-free gnocchi varieties out there made by pretty big companies like De Cecco and Cappello’s

What does gnocchi taste like? 

Well, potato gnocchi it’s a little potatoey, but for the most part gnocchi tastes rather bland. That’s the point, though. Just like regular pasta doesn’t have a powerful taste. Gnocchi is more about the textural experience. And it’s used to highlight a sauce, whether it’s a big, meaty ragu, or a simple, delicate olive oil. The sauce is the star and the gnocchi features it.

How to say gnocchi correctly?

So, how do you pronounce gnocchi? Gnocchi is pronounced “NYOH-key.” Drop that “g” and then act like you’re saying “no” with a real Bugs Bunny attitude. And then add the “key.” Gnocchi is actually plural, because it’s not like you’re just going to eat one. If you are a weirdo that just wants to eat one, the singular is “gnoccho.”

About the Author

Will Morgan

Will Morgan, a freelance contributor to Sporked, is an L.A. based writer, actor, and sketch comedy guy. Originally from Houston, TX, he strongly believes in the superiority of breakfast tacos to breakfast burritos. Will traveled the world as one of those people that did yoyo shows at elementary school assemblies, always making a point to find local and regional foods to explore in whatever place he was, even in rinky-dink towns like Tilsonberg, ON. Will spends his birthdays at Benihana’s. Let him know if can make it.

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