My First Gnocchi. Or why fluffy is so overrated.

by cindy winetroub rogers

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I never had gnocchi growing up. I never had a dumpling of any sort, unless you consider matzo balls dumplings. Which I suppose you could. They are light and fluffy concoctions (unless made by mother in which case they’re dense and chewy) made with matzo meal, which is basically crushed matzos, which are made from flour and water, which technically, makes them flour dumplings.

Anyway, back to gnocchi. I had them for the first time a couple years ago at an Italian restaurant in New York City, the name of which escapes me at the moment. Perhaps Eataly. Perhaps not. Doesn’t matter. The important thing to know is they blew my mind. They were in some sort of cream sauce, with sage, and pancetta, and Parmesan. I think. I probably had several glasses of wine, so (though not as bad as Rachel, of The Girl on the Train) I am an unreliable narrator.

Now, I recently took the gnocchi making class at so I felt sure I could do this. And I had scoured recipes from cookbooks and from across the Internet far and wide. I’d even watched Mario B. on a New York Times video.

Additionally, I had my flour, my egg, my measuring cup, my wooden cutting board, and my cute little apron. I was ready.

As for the sauce: I didn’t want tomato. Too obvious. But I didn’t want cream either. Too decadent. So I decided on a light white wine, shallots, scallops, mushrooms, sage, and pancetta sauce. With oodles of Parmesan cheese, of course.

And I’m here to report to you that making gnocchi is easier than I thought — as easy as making pasta, and certainly easier than making bread.

Full disclosure, of course: the sauce might have wanted a little cream. Just a little. And my gnocchi, while delicious, were certainly not perfect. They were in fact more dense than fluffy. But come to think of it, perhaps that’s as it should be. After all, the dumplings — er, matzo balls — I happily devoured whenever my mother made them were dense and chewy, too.

Gnocchi with Scallops, Mushrooms, Pancetta, Baby Broccoli and Sage

The Gnocchi:

  1. Bake four to five small starchy potatoes in a 400 degree oven till jackets are crisp and insides are soft,
  1. Let cool then remove skins and mash in bowl.
  1. Pour mashed potatoes onto wooden surface and mix with about 1 cup of regular flour. Make hole in the mixture and add an egg. Mix it all and knead the dough till it no longer feels tacky, and your hands no longer stick to it.
  1. Roll the dough into sausage like lengths then cut into 2 inch pieces.rolled gnocchi5. Press a fork into the tops of the gnocchi to give them they’re classic indentations.forked gnocchis6. Drop small batches of the gnocchi into boiling salted water and remove as soon as they float to the top.

The sauce:

  1. Sauté pancetta then remove with slotted spoon. Pour off fat from pan.
  1. Add olive oil to pan and sauté shallots briefly then add sliced mushrooms. When they begin to release their water add a generous splash (about ¼-1/3 cup) white wine.
  1. When mushrooms are cooked and sauce has thickened a little (add more wine as needed) add baby broccoli.
  1. When broccoli is just about done, add the scallops and julienned sage and cook till scallops done – about two more minutes.
  1. Add gnocchi to sauce then transfer to serving bowl and top with lots and lots and lots of Parmesan.