Food + Wine

New School Italian

Let me preface this by saying that I am not Italian.  I’m just a busy mom who cooks dinner from scratch for her family each and every night.  And sometimes that ‘from scratch’ needs a little help, a little short cut.  I mean, really.  Who doesn’t love a short cut?  I’ve made gnocchi before, and I really love doing it.  Even with my busy schedule, if I can carve out the time to do it, I love the method of making gnocchi.  It makes me feel a little closer to all of the women who have been doing this same thing for years and years for their children, it’s relaxing and comforting to me, like making bread.  I probably even smile while I’m doing it.

I make sweet potato gnocchi*, usually with whole wheat pastry flour or spelt flour, I make parsnip gnocchi using the same, and sometimes I make plain, yet delicious gnocchi using white potatoes instead of the sweet.  I go through all the necessary steps, following tradition for the most part, except that I don’t usually make the indentations on my gnocchi.  That, I can live without.  I know it’s traditional and I know its purpose is to hold onto the sauce better, and I get all of that but…it just takes a really, really, long time after I did all the other steps.  And it tastes the same to me.

But today, as I was making my gnocchi, I looked down at my big bowl of dough.  I got to the point where I usually would have separated it into sections and rolled each section out into dowels and then sliced pieces off of each dowel to make the little gnocchi.  But this time I stood over that bowl, and thought,

‘hmm…what if…’

I reached my hands into that bowl of dough and took out little pieces and rolled each piece in the palm of my hand to make little balls, as if I were making truffles…


‘Could this work?  There’s no way this could work…it’s too easy.’

And then, once my water came up to a rolling boil, I looked down at my little balls and decided to do something I have never, ever done before.  I picked up each of those little balls and gave them a special treat.

I dropped those gnocchi-lookin’ balls into the boiling water and cooked them like usual.

And when I tasted one, I smiled.

(*My other gnocchi recipes:  Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Leeks and Tarragon Cream, Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Braised Collard Greens and Sausage.)

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