Serves 6


Kids love gnocchi. Adults love gnocchi. Even our household pets eat gnocchi (without the cheese, of course). There is something about the warming feeling of satisfaction after eating a plate of delicious gnocchi that makes this little dumpling rank high on everyone’s list. Potato gnocchi is something I made often as a child, helping Grandma and Mom prepare usually Sunday dinner.


  • 2 large pots of water, divided (1 for boiling potatoes and 1 for cooking gnocchi)
  • 1 1/2 pounds baking potatoes
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg, beaten well
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • For this recipe, you will need a potato ricer or vegetable mill.
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Nonna’s Birthday Surprise

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Making and Shaping the Gnocchi

1. Boil the potatoes in water and cover until tender when poked with a fork. Don’t let them overcook to the point that their skins split. Drain.

2. As soon as the potatoes are cool enough to handle, peel them and put them through the ricer or vegetable mill, using the medium disk and letting the shreds fall onto a large baking tray or board. Spread them out, sprinkle on the salt, and let them dry out and cool for at least 20 minutes.

3. Pour the beaten egg over the potatoes and then 1 cup of the flour. Gather the mass together and knead, adding a little more flour as necessary to make the dough hold together. But keep it light; the more you work the dough, the more flour you’ll need, and you don’t want to incorporate too much or the gnocchi will be heavy and dry. A good criterion: Slice the mass in half and examine the texture. It should look like cookie dough peppered with small holes.

4. Cut the dough into 3 equal pieces. Roll out each portion into a broomstick about 18 inches long, then cut crosswise into 2/3-inch pieces and toss them lightly in flour. You should have about 72 gnocchi.

5. Take one piece of gnocchi and place it cut-side-down on the tines of a fork. Then with your lightly floured thumb, press into it, at the same time pushing it off the end of the fork and onto a floured board. The gnocchi should have an indentation where your thumb was and ridges from the fork tines on the other side. Repeat with all the remaining pieces and cover with a clean towel. At this point they should be cooked immediately or quickly frozen.

 Cooking the Gnocchi

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

2. Drop the gnocchi, 5 or 6 at a time, into a large pot of boiling, salted water—the larger the pot the less time they will take to return to the boil.

3. Once they have cooked for 2 to 3 minutes, they will plump up and float to the surface. Fish them out with a strainer or slotted spoon, and drop them gently from your strainer into the waiting sauce.


Kids Can:

Help rice potatoes and knead, shape, and cut gnocchi dough.


Butter and Fresh Sage Sauce

Yield: For 1 Recipe of Gnocchi

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, to taste

12 fresh whole sage leaves

1 cup hot water from the pasta cooking pot

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper or to taste

1 cup Grana Padano, grated

 1. Melt the butter in the pan over medium heat, lay in the sage leaves, and heat until the butter is sizzling gently. Toast the leaves for 1 minute or so.

2. Ladle in 1 cup boiling pasta water; stir the sauce and simmer for about 2 minutes.

3. Grind the black pepper directly into the sauce.

4. Keep the sauce hot over very low heat; return to a simmer just before adding gnocchi.


5. Drain gnocchi and add to the sauce in the skillet. Toss gently until all gnocchi are coated with sauce. Off the heat, toss in the cheese just before serving.

Nonna’s Birthday Surprise


Nonna’s Birthday Surprise

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