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Venice and gnocchi


Gnocchi is the Italian name for a variety of soft dumplings. They are made from either semolina or wheat flour, potatoes, or bread crumbs. The word gnocchi means “lumps” which may have derived from nocchio, which is a knot in the wood, or from nocca, which is the word for knuckle. Classic sauces for gnocchi are tomato-based sauces, pesto, or browned herb butter with cheese.

Marissa and Connor in Venice

Marissa and Connor in Venice

In the summer of 2008, we took a family vacation to Paris, Venice, Rome, and Tuscany… it was a slice of heaven and the trip of a lifetime. While in Venice, we were dining on a restaurant patio overlooking the water and passing gondolas. It was a perfect night and Marissa ordered the perfect dish, amazing gnocchi – I can still remember the delectable flavor and texture. You know how sometimes, even though you’re enjoying what you ordered, you’re sitting there regretting that you did not order what someone else at the table is enjoying? Right, well that was one of those times. I guess we’ll just have to go back to Venice sometime soon, that way I’ll have no regrets!

Gnocchi with Tomato-Pesto Sauce

Gnocchi with Tomato-Pesto Sauce

Connor prefers his gnocchi prepared with a tomato-pesto sauce, instead of the sage butter sauce. To serve it that way, heat a 28-ounce can of crushed Roma tomatoes in a skillet, when simmering, add gnocchi that has been boiled, and cook for 5 minutes, remove from heat and stir in 3/4 cup of prepared pesto and toss, plate and serve with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.

Yukon Gold and Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Sage-Browned Butter Sauce

A mixture of 2 pounds sweet potatoes and Yukon Gold potatoes, pierced
all over with a paring knife or fork
1 heaping cup ricotta cheese, drained in a sieve placed over a
bowl for 1 hour
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons golden brown sugar
1  1/2 teaspoons
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1  1/2 cups (about) flour
2 tablespoons salt (for boiling water)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 cup chopped fresh sage plus whole leaves for garnish

Place both types of potatoes on a microwave-safe plate; microwave on high until tender, about 5 to 7 minutes per side. Cut in half and set aside until cool enough to handle.  Scrape the potato flesh into a food mill or ricer place it over a large bowl and process into the bowl, you should have about 2 cups of mashed potatoes.

potatoes being placed in food mill in foreground and ricotta draining in background

potatoes being placed in food mill in the foreground and ricotta draining in background

Add ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, brown sugar,  salt, and nutmeg to the bowl with potatoes and mix with a wooden spoon to blend. Mix in flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until soft dough forms, adding more than the 1 1/2 cups called for, if necessary to achieve the correct soft dough consistency.

4 pieces

Turn dough out onto floured surface; divide into 4 equal pieces. Rolling between palms and the floured work surface, form each piece into a long rope that is 1-inch in diameter. Cut each rope into 1-inch pieces.

1 inch pieces

Roll each piece over the tines of an upside-down (tines facing down on the counter) fork to indent.


Transfer to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.

on sheet

Bring a large pot of water to boil; add 2 tablespoons salt and return to boil. Working in two batches, boil gnocchi until tender, 5 to 6 minutes, or until the gnocchi floats to the top of the pot. Using a slotted spoon, transfer gnocchi to a clean rimmed baking sheet. Cool completely. (Can be made 4 hours ahead, holding at room temperature.)


Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook until butter solids are brown but not burned, swirling pan occasionally, about 4 minutes.

Carefully add chopped sage, it will sizzle, so stand back. Turn off the heat. Season sage butter generously with salt and pepper.

Transfer half of the sage butter to a large skillet set over medium-high heat. Add half of the gnocchi. Sauté until gnocchi is heated through, about 6 minutes. Empty skillet onto rimmed baking sheet; place in oven to keep warm. Repeat with remaining sage butter and gnocchi.

Divide gnocchi and sauce among shallow bowls. Garnish with sage leaves.

Serves 8

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Cute Pig Chef

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