If you can't have gluten-free gnocchi in Italy, then have Italy come to you!
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A Little Background on Making Gnocchi...
In the month before the COVID-19 quarantining began, my dear friend Heather and her fiance Roberto invited us to their house for a gluten-free dinner. Roberto is Italian from Italy, and both he and Heather are amazing cooks that are proficient in Italian cooking. Together, we learned to make gnocchi, from scratch, in gluten-free form, with homemade pesto!
Can't You Buy Pre-Made Gluten-Free Gnocchi?
Yes, you can! Here's a photo of them from Le Veneziane, a brand from Italy, that I love buying at a local Italian supermarket (Salumeria Italiana) in the North End of Boston.
But, if you've read my blog before, you mayyyy know I have a tendency for wanting the satisfaction and pride of making something myself, from scratch (like these gluten-free croissants. One of my proudest moments for sure).
And that's what you'll find in this recipe & story of how we learned to make them from scratch the Italian way!
About Our Hosts
Heather and I have been friends since 9th grade. Back when we were sixteen, we'd sit in the uncomfortable chairs in our high school band room, playing silly songs, laughing about our crushes, and looking for things to do on Friday nights in our boring town. But then college came, and we went our separate ways and we lost touch for many years.
When Heather and her fiance Roby moved to Boston in 2019, it was the perfect opportunity to reconnect. And nothing changed between us at all! Our silly antics were still there, and it was wonderful to pick up exactly where we left off and enjoy a meal together. Now they live in Italy permanently, and we miss them so much!
Roby and Heather both know Italian cooking very well - from the ingredients, the techniques, and since knowing me, how to substitute and make dishes gluten-free in a safe way. They went above and beyond in cleaning and preparing their kitchen to be safe for me to eat in, and showed us how to make gluten-free gnocchi, from scratch!
About This Gluten-Free Gnocchi Recipe
There are two versions of the gluten-free gnocchi recipe listed below - one with Cup4Cup flour, my preferred flour blend, and one with chickpea flour. Be sure to double-check the specifics about the differences in the egg for each recipe, but both only require gluten-free flour, potato, and egg!
Ingredients You Will Need
Gluten-Free Flour: We tried the recipe in two ways. With Heather and Roberto, we made chickpea gnocchi. Back at home, Dylan and I made regular gnocchi with Cup4Cup flour. Both worked for the amounts listed. The Cup4Cup gnocchi required an extra egg yolk, whereas the chickpea gnocchi did not. You might have to experiment if the dough is too dry and does not stick together. Adding an extra egg yolk did the trick for the Cup4Cup version, but I cannot say how your gnocchi will turn out with a different gluten-free flour blend. Please leave a comment or send me a message with questions and I'm happy to troubleshoot!
Potato: I use russet potatoes.
Egg: This will bind the gnocchi dough together.
How To Make Gluten-Free Gnocchi
After cooking the potatoes, mashing, and cooling them slightly, you'll mix it with the gluten-free flour and egg to form a dough. Then, you roll out the dough into a long snake like shape, and using a knife, cut into little pillows. You can leave an imprint in the center for more pillow-like shape, or roll them using the back of a fork for more fun shapes. After that, you boil them (this is fresh pasta, so it only takes a few minutes), and serve with your favorite sauce.
Pesto Tips From Roberto
Roberto's pesto was fantastic, but he makes it all by taste. Roberto is from Genoa, and pesto originally comes from Genoa, so he definitely knows what he's doing. I have my own spinach pesto recipe but I learned quite a few things from Roberto's teachings.
-Be sure to use young and small basil leaves. Soak the basil leaves to remove impurities. Do so gently, transferring them from a bowl with water to an empty bowl, until no dirt remains.
-Garlic is optional- some use garlic in their pesto, and some don't. I discovered I actually prefer pesto without garlic, after this dinner!
-Two types of cheeses make a delicious pesto. Be sure to use a ratio of 75% parmigiana, 25% pecorino.
-When mixing pesto into pasta, be sure to add some of the starchy gluten-free pasta water to thin out the sauce. It works perfectly!
How To Serve Gluten-Free Gnocchi
Gnocchi is also great with butter and sage, like this recipe which we had with the Cup4Cup gnocchi. Enjoy your gnocchi with whatever sauce you prefer! Gnocchi is fresh pasta, so it's best to cook it immediately. Of course, pesto is definitely a great idea, and you can try my spinach pesto recipe here.
How To Store Gluten-Free Gnocchi
Once the gnocchi is cooked, you can store any leftovers in the fridge for 2-3 days and reheat in the microwave.
Looking for more gluten-free pasta dishes?
You can't go wrong with spaghetti and meatballs. It's a classic!
Have another vegetarian pasta dish with penne alla vodka.
Do you have a ton of cherry tomatoes to use up? Try it in this burst cherry tomato spaghetti.
Love pesto but don't have any basil? Try this spinach version, which goes perfectly over penne or rotini!
Try gluten-free pad thai, with rice noodles and flavors right from Thailand.
Here's how to make gluten-free gnocchi from scratch - two ways to make these "little pillows" of deliciousness! If you love this recipe, please leave a comment! Thank you so much!
Gluten-Free Gnocchi Recipe
- 150 grams (about 1 ½ cups) Cup4Cup flour or chickpea flour
- 500 grams (1 pound) russet potatoes, mashed (about 2-3 potatoes)
- 1 whole egg + 1 egg yolk (for chickpea gnocchi, only use 1 egg)
Peel potatoes and dice into small cubes of even size. Place the potatoes in a small pot, and add water until they are just covered. Bring potatoes to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 10-12 minutes, or until tender. Pierce them with a fork to check. You want them to be soft so they are easy to mash. Drain and let cool. When the potatoes have cooled, mash them using a pastry cutter, fork, or potato masher.
Onto a clean surface or countertop, pour out the flour and potatoes directly on top of one another, making a small circle shape. Make a well in the center (essentially, a small hole), and crack the egg (+1 yolk if using Cup4Cup) right into the hole. Using a fork or your finger, scramble the egg and mix until the yolk and whites are combined.
Slowly, begin adding and incorporating little bits of the flour and potato from around the well. Continue to mix and incorporate in a circle, adding flour and potato as you go, until the mixture begins to stick and form a dough. Keep mixing and begin kneading until the dough looks rollable! When the dough can be easily manipulated, shape into a ball and cut into six equal pieces.
Take one piece of the dough and using your hands, begin to roll the dough into a long and fairly thin snake. Using a sharp knife, cut the snake into ½ inch pieces. From here, you can leave the gnocchi as is, or get a little fancy. With a fork, create little lines in the gnocchi or with your fingers, place a small dimple in the center of the gnocchi- making it look like a real, miniature pillow.
Lay the gnocchi on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or silicone mats. Sprinkle with additional gluten-free flour as you go so they don't stick together. Repeat steps 4-5 until no dough remains.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Gently, place the gnocchi into the hot water but be careful as they can create some splash. You can use a large spoon to help. Cook the gnocchi until they have floated to the top - that's when you know they are done. It should only take about 2 minutes, so watch closely.
Remove the gnocchi from the boiling water using a slotted spoon. Toss gnocchi with your sauce of choice, and enjoy!
This recipe is based on one from Italy, so the weight is in grams. If you don't already have a kitchen scale, it's a great tool to have for cooking and baking. You can measure exact amounts precisely and convert the units to whatever scale the recipe uses. If you don't have a kitchen scale, use an online converter to translate grams into cups.
We tried the recipe in two ways. With Heather and Roberto, we made chickpea gnocchi. Back at home, Dylan and I made regular gnocchi with Cup4Cup flour. Both worked for the amounts listed. The Cup4Cup gnocchi required an extra egg yolk, whereas the chickpea gnocchi did not. You might have to experiment if the dough is too dry and does not stick together. Adding an extra egg yolk did the trick for the Cup4Cup version, but I cannot say how your gnocchi will turn out with a different gluten-free flour blend. Please leave a comment or send me a message with questions and I'm happy to troubleshoot!
Have you ever made gnocchi from scratch?
Do you like garlic in your pesto sauce?
Let me know in the comments!