I like to call them little dumplings of delight. Small, dense and full of joy. Following rapidly on the heels of pizza and pasta as one of Italy’s most well-known and well-loved dishes comes the mighty gnocchi.
Gnocchi are a simple combination of precooked potato, flour and egg. In the cooking class we did recently with Tuscany Now and More the recipe also included ground nutmeg. Once mixed, the dough is rolled into long sausage like shapes, cut into even sized pieces and dropped into boiling water to cook. It’s remarkable how quickly these dense little dumplings rise back up the surface, ready to be drained and served. The process may not be complex but we certainly appreciated being able to watch an expert make them and follow along at home. I was amazed at how light and soft the homemade version was, it definitely inspired me to make my own again. Check out Tuscany Now and More's instagram for more live cooking demonstrations.
I remembered from my time living in Rome the tradition of Giovedì Gnocchi - eating this dish on a Thursday. I had no idea why but I was very happy to partake! Having now done my research I’ve discovered the history of this tradition that originated in Rome. It began post-war in order to comply with the Catholic Church rule of Friday as a fast from meat day. People needed something substantial to eat the night before and at a time when resources were scarce, a dish with minimal and easily sourced ingredients like this was ideal.
Many still keep Thursday as their day to eat gnocchi but I for one was quite happy to extend that to any day of the week! You can find the dish in most trattorie and ristorante in Rome as well as mercati for DIY dinners. I’ll never forget the, what felt life-giving at the time, gnocchi lunch at Osteria da Fortunata in Campo dei Fiori. It was the Sunday after my first birthday in Rome which had ended with a disco on a boat along the river. I can safely say that a big bowl of tomatoey mozzerellaery gnocchi was the ultimate hangover cure. This rustic little restaurant is worth a visit just for the nonna rolling out and shaping her pasta in front of you...
Mine in the making / My finished product / Osteria da Fortunata