Potato Gnocchi with Gorgonzola Cream Sauce

Gnocchi (pronounced nyok-ee) go way back to Roman times. They were made from semolina dough, mixed with eggs. Roman legions spread the dish throughout the European region where they have conquered and it became a peasant delicacy as the gnocchi was inexpensive, easy to prepare, and filling.

Gnocchi developed into different variations since then. At first, they existed with different ingredients such as squash and breadcrumbs, made of ordinary wheat flour or cornmeal. Then they came with cheese and potatoes. But it didn’t become the potato dumplings we know today until the 16th century when potatoes were introduced to Europe. The potato gnocchi actually originated in Northern Italy, where the cooler climate was better suited for growing potatoes rather than grain. Russet potatoes are starchier, and make light, airy dough and are responsible for the soft, pillowy texture and more potato-y flavor of the gnocchi.

This simple and popular meal has mostly remained a handcrafted dish, retaining Italian culinary traditions.

Pellegrino Artusi, renowned as the “grandfather” of Italian cuisine, after shaping his gnocchi into pinky-sized pieces, scraped them on the back of a cheese grater for texture. Thank goodness there is a tool for that now, as I would surely end up grating my fingers. Using the tines of a fork or a wooden gnocchi board to create that texture helps give the generally smooth dumplings little nooks and crannies where sauce may hide, assuring full flavor with every bite. And this sauce is full of delicious flavor!

You might also enjoy my ricotta gnocchi, which I serve with a simple tomato sauce or a brown butter and sage sauce.

Gnocchi Ingredients:

  • 1 pound russet potatoes
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 Cup flour
  • 1/4 Cup Parmigiano cheese, freshly grated
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • pinch of nutmeg
  1. To make the gnocchi: Bake or microwave the potatoes until soft. Peel the warm potatoes and press them through a ricer or mash them. Measure out 1 1/4 cups potato (use remaining potato as you wish).
  2. Mix the baking powder with the flour, and sprinkle over the potatoes.
  3. Add the cheese, yolks, salt, and nutmeg, mixing just until everything comes together in a smooth ball.
  4. Place the dough on a floured work surface, cover, and let it rest for 30 minutes.
  5. Take about a third of the dough, and roll it into a rope about the thickness of a finger.
  6. Cut 3/4″-long pieces. Using a gnocchi board or the back of a fork, roll the individual gnocchi to create ridges on one side, and a little space in the middle.
  7. Place the gnocchi on a parchment-lined baking sheet dusted with flour, cover lightly, and chill until ready to cook. Gnocchi may be stored in the refrigerator up to a day, and in the freezer for several months.
  8. To cook: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a slow boil, and add the gnocchi.
  9. Once gnocchi float to the surface, cook for 4 to 5 minutes. Drain cooked gnocchi and toss with sauce.


Gorgonzola Cream Sauce Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (227g) heavy cream
  • 1/4-pound (113g) Gorgonzola cheese
  • coarsely ground black pepper
  • fresh sage leaves
  • walnut pieces or chopped walnut halves, optional
  1. To make the gorgonzola cream sauce: Bring the heavy cream to a simmer over medium heat and keep simmering until the cream is reduced in volume by about a third.
  2. Add the cheese in pieces. Stir until all the cheese melts and the sauce becomes smooth.
  3. Toss with pasta and sprinkle servings with pepper and walnuts. Garnish with sage leaves.
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