potato gnocchi

Potato gnocchi for me are the symbol of selfless love. My mother made the best gnocchi, but she did not eat them, not even one. After all that work she would just have a plate of simple spaghetti while we feasted on the heavenly dumplings.

There is something esoteric about making gnocchi. So many things can go wrong. They can turn out too tough, floury little pebbles, or too soft and fall apart in the water.  My mum only ever made them in the summer with new potatoes. I know others that will only make them with old potatoes. Everyone has a theory about which potatoes are best, but basically you need your potatoes to be floury and dry.

In Umbria, as children, we are thought that we should not drink water with gnocchi, because they become indigestible.  Indeed my (Dutch) husband has this theory that they grow inside the stomach. Therefore we don’t water them, we accompany them with red wine. Better safe than sorry.

The real secret with gnocchi is to make sure the potatoes are  dry before mashing. You want to add just enough flour to obtain a dough. If the potatoes are too moist they will absorb too much flour resulting in the above mentioned pebbles.

I don’t make ridges on my gnocchi to “hold” the sauce. I prefer to finish them in the sauce like I do with pasta, I just don’t stir them as much.

The second secret is to make 2 or 3 gnocchi e cook them in a little pan of hot water before making the rest. This way you know if your dough will resist the cooking. If they revert to a puree you definitely need to add more flour.


  • 1 kg/ 2 lbs  floury potatoes
  • 2 eggs
  • 300 g plain flour (or gluten free flour mix)

Place the unpeeled potatoes  in a pan of salted water, bring to the boil and cook until tender. Drain, then transfer in a warm oven or to a griddle lined with foil  for 5 minutes or so to drive off all the moisture.
When still warm, mash the potatoes, preferably with a mouli or potato ricer, then mix with the eggs and flour. Knead lightly until smooth adding flour if the dough is too sticky to handle.  Do not overwork the dough.

Roll the dough into  cylinders about 2 cm ( 2/3 inch) in diameter. Cut each cylinder into 2 cm (2/3 inch) pieces .  Place on a floured tray, making sure they do not touch.
Bring a pan of salted water to a boil. Heat the sauce. Drop a third of the gnocchi in the water.  As they cook, they’ll float to the surface. Let them cook them  about 1/2 minute from the time they surface, then scoop them out with a slotted spoon. Transfer them in a warm bowl, toss with a drizzle of olive oil and cover.  Repeat with the remaining gnocchi until all are cooked. Now transfer them in the pan that  holds the hot sauce, stir lightly, add cheese if using,  stir some more and serve immediately.

Serves 5-6.  For one person you need about 35 gnocchi (200 gr/ 7 oz) .

15 thoughts on “potato gnocchi

  1. You should have posted this last week! We made gnocchi last week and they came out rather nice, but I can always use a refresher course and a new tip or two – I didn’t add eggs…but think that is a great idea!. (this time, fortunatamente! I remembered to use the potato ricer!…last time I made gnocchi it was a complete disaster because I forgot and used a food processor!)

    (che carine le ragazze!)


  2. Love the comment about drinking red wine with the gnocchi – classic!
    Love the video Letty, I will have to move the kitchen into the study and cook in here!
    Tell the girls they are stars in the making!


  3. ciao Melissa, using eggs is another of those things people swears you should do or absolutely you should not do. I find that they just make the product more reliable when the potatoes are less than ideal.

    Glad you all liked my “presenters”.


  4. What a lovely video, Letizia — the girls look so cute!

    Your recipe looks so delicious (and deceptively simple!) I only ever have gnocchi in Italy because in Canada it can be very heavy (too heavy, I think, to even grow in one’s stomach)

    Your “secrets” to success are so helpful; testing a few before cooking is a brilliant idea.


  5. Love the post and the video!! Yes, you’re absolutely right, gnocchi is one of those “absolutely do vs. absolutely don’t” recipes in Italy… actually my recipe is “old-potatoes, no egg” 😉 …I’ll go and try yours asap… you know, scientific interest… 🙂


    1. Yes Sandra, when gnocchi are heavy they are terrible! That’s the sort that grows in the stomach.

      Giulia, I actually find that eggs give them a better flavor, but may be old potatoes don’t need them. Everything is possible with gnocchi.


  6. I really enjoyed your video. Personally I like to bake my russet potatoes which make the gnocchi very light and fluffy.
    It was a joy to see the children.


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